Unexpected Freeze

Pictures of a heartbreaking loss due to a late freeze, the second in as many years…

Heartbreak in the Garden

Heartbreaking.  That’s the only word to describe it.  As I wrapped my hands around my coffee cup and stared out our back door at the dawning day and the beauty of the morning, my breath caught in my throat when I noticed the blanket of frost that covered the ground.

After 2 weeks of 70 and 80 degree days, I never would have expected the temperature to dip so low.  The day before I had checked the weather and it said the expected low was 37 degrees. When we turned the hoses on this morning to try and rinse the frost off the plants, there were chunks of ice in them!  Before the sun rays hit my plants, I had rinsed off all the frost and said a prayer.  After attending a funeral I didn’t get out to check the plants again until early afternoon.  It didn’t look good.  I can only hope that the plants had developed enough of a root system to help them through.  Without at least one leaf to carry on photosynthesis though, even a strong stem and root system won’t save them.  At the best, I will have 50% survive, and their growth will be stunted from the trauma in their young lives.  At worst I will have lost all of my spring planting. This includes:

  • 144 potatoes in the beginning stages of the Great Potato Bucket Experiment
  • 100 green beans
  • 78 heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 newly planted (like, the day before) basil plants
  • 12 okra
  • 24 cantaloupe
  • 12 cucumber
  • 12 summer squash
  •  12 watermelon
  •  24 winter squash

In case you weren’t counting, that’s 422 plants, some of which I had been tenderly caring for since JANUARY!  Some of my heirloom tomatoes were the last of my seed – seed I knew I could replenish with this year’s harvest.  Beside the financial loss is the loss of time.  Even if I purchase transplants now, I’m at least 2 weeks behind the planting date on almost all of my crops.  This is the life of a farmer.  And even with the blessings of weather forecasts and predictions, you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Below are pictures of the death and destruction :-(

How to Prevent This From Happening Again?

Next time I will be more prepared. We like to cover our beds with PVS pipe bent in the shape of an upside U, with the ends of the pipe simply shoved into our soft ground as far as they will go. It’s important to keep a close eye on the weather and cover our plants when they are threatened by a freeze. We have tried using 6 mil plastic sheeting to cover the plants, as well as old sheets. I definitely prefer the old sheets as the plastic does not allow rain to penetrate. I will be scouting the resale shops to build up my supply of sheets for this purpose. And next time, I’ll be more prepared!