Monday, September 29, 2014

Summer’s Over, Here Comes Frost! by Sharon Faircloth

Unprotected basil after the first frost
Just as I was starting to think about the coming frost and trying to give up summer, we got a quick cold snap and good-bye basil and most of the annuals that had been so happy all summer!

This time of year, it’s probably best to watch the weather to protect your plants and extend your growing season.  There are two types of frost, advective which occurs when a cold front comes through dropping temperatures to severe levels; and radiation frost which occurs on those crisp, clear nights that allow heat to dissipate at night.
Cover those plants you want to protect

Typically, the soil warms during the day so whatever you can do to hold that heat in, the longer your cool season veggies will last. There are several ways to protect your garden at night.  The critical thing is to make sure to allow the sun back in the next day to bring the temps back up.  For ideas on how to mitigate colder temperatures both fall and spring, check out CMG Garden Notes #722 and #715
Row covers do help to hold the heat 

You might want to keep soil and air temperatures as part of your garden journal.  A journal has helped me remember what I planted, what worked and what I might add or do differently next year.  We have so many microclimates in the mountains, it’s very useful to track the frost dates with the rest of the data we keep to maximize our efforts each season.  My first frost this fall may have not affected you at all!  There can be as much as a 1 degree drop in temperature for 300 feet of elevation but there are mitigating factors like rocks and wind shelter.  Historic dates may assist as a guide but you’ll find tracking your own temps will be more informative to your own personal microclimate.

So keep track of your dates, mitigate the cold snaps and prosper through the fall!

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