FROST PROTECTION - Basics

FROST is possibly on its way!
Whether you want to harvest soon or want to extend the season longer, here are some of my basic tricks to protect most vegetable plants from frost!
Dry Skin
- Well, we already have rain, but if you can get the plants covered before precipitation, then you are a step ahead. If your plants are wet, they will freeze/frost faster. Dry-skinned plants withstand cold better.
Cold Framing!
- Supports and Poly are the greatest! Whether you make hoops or pergolas, boxes, or pyramids, the idea is to keep the frost & wet off the plants, and trap warmth in/ keep cold-out.
- It’s important to keep the poly from touching the plants if possible but not with too much head space (heat rises & we want it around the plants). Where the poly touches plants, they may get frost damage. Old blankets really work best in place of poly when it is NOT raining or wet snow.
- Take the poly off if it gets hot out! Oooor, roll them up on one side or open them to vent, especially if the forecast shows they'll need protect again.
Insulation from Freezing!
- Insulate Above & Sides: Old blankets between the poly and the plants makes for extra insulation. As per above, if it is not too wet, use the blankets as the cover and the insulation at the same time!
- Insulate Sides: Place straw bales around ground beds or raised planters.
- Insulate Roots: Mulch-up at least a few inches of the surface of your raised or ground beds with untreated wood shavings or fallen leaves (non-diseased nor infested). Adding your autumn application of compost also insults those roots!
- Insulate All Around! {Thermal Mass}: The mounded compost or soil, holds heat, as do boulders around the garden or amongst its plants. Depending on how large your cold-frame is, you can place filled black barrels of water where they absorb sun and they act as a thermal mass too!
Don’t Need No Protection!
- Plants that DON'T need frost protection (temperatures from 5ºC to 0ºC): Kale, Chard, Romaine Lettuce, Beets, Cabbage, Broccoli, Winter-Squash, Carrots, Potatoes... basically most of your more thick skinned, rigid produce and root veggies!
- I harvest most kale and broccoli in snow! The other leaf greens and root veggies are harvested before the ground freezes!

I trust that this will help those of you new to edible gardening and to those that are interested in extending your garden season!

Some of what is still growing in my garden! Many plants were planted late, but with these basic frost protection techniques, I can extend my season for a while (as long as we don't drop much below zero)!

Some of what is still growing in my garden! Many plants were planted late, but with these basic frost protection techniques, I can extend my season for a while (as long as we don't drop much below zero)!