Something is in the Air
You can smell it in the air, and you can feel it when you step outside. Our seasons in the Great White North are changing again. The daily temperatures for mid-September seem cool, but it really should not surprise any of us that have been paying attention: it has been a cool, wet year so far.
Early this year, we had torrential rainstorms. In Minnesota, we had a year’s worth of rain between January and June, and July came and went without much rain at all. While we braced for the August humidity and heat, it only showed up for a few days. All in all, it has been a mild summer, and you can feel the gears change into an early fall.
That is why getting frost on September 12 and 13th should not have been a big surprise to any of us who were watching the weather and our gardens. In Minnesota, our first frost usually hits around September 20th to October 1st, but like many others, I was not quite ready for this first frost.
Even though cold temperatures were hitting our area, there are ways to implement garden frost protection measures that can keep your plants alive and producing for a few more weeks.
Garden Frost Protection
Amy at Get Busy Gardening has an excellent article about Garden Frost Protection. The key to garden frost protection is getting your plants covered before the cold strikes, which is typically in the early morning hours. You can use old sheets, blankets and towels to cover your plants, just make sure to remove them in the morning.
CAUTION: Don’t use plastic tarps or sheeting! Use it only if you make a tent over the plants (plastic should not touch the plants). Since cold air is dense, it will freeze moisture that is trapped by the plastic tarp or sheeting.
My Experience with Garden Frost Protection
Over the weekend, I was up in Northwestern Wisconsin at a family cabin. When I got there on Friday night, my mom was frantically putting sheets and blankets over her plants in three different beds. Of course I helped her out and made sure everything was covered. Sure enough, the temperatures dipped into the 30’s, but most of her plants made it through the night and next morning.
I did a relatively quick video on the garden frost protection on Saturday, and I posted it up to the Small Scale Gardening YouTube channel:
You can see our rag-tag, hodge-podge bunches of blankets, sheets and towels. In areas where we had some fencing, we used clothespins to attach the sheets and blankets, just in case wind came up in the night.
On Monday, I talked to my colleagues at work who have large gardens west of the Twin Cities. They indicated that they lost their entire gardens to frost on Friday night/Saturday morning. The cold came in and settled on their plants, killing them. they did not cover their plants.
Try Garden Frost Protection
By using garden frost protection techniques, hopefully you will keep your plants alive and healthy for a few more weeks, and hopefully you will be signing “the cold never bothered me anyway!”
P.S. For the record, I did end up swimming in the lake as we took out the dock, floating raft and boats later that weekend. The water is high and was…..very cold. I think I am talking a few octaves higher….
“The cold never bothered me anyway!”