Blog Archives

Preparing for the Sudden Onslaught of Winter

I feel like I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the weather, but it really isn’t just idle conversation! The weather is extremely important to our success as gardeners. After one light freeze and lots of unseasonably warm weather, we are looking at more than a week of unseasonably cold temperatures. Overnight lows look like they will be hovering in the upper teens to low 20s for the better part of the next two weeks. (At least that low of 9 degrees is gone, for now!) Many of the cool season vegetables will tolerate temperatures down to 24 or 25 without significant damage, but two weeks of lows down around 20 is probably a bit much for them to tolerate, especially when they haven’t been hardened off with cold-but-not-too-cold temperatures.

So…it was time to harvest some things and cover others this afternoon! Because I can’t resist experimenting, I left one or two plants of almost everything in the garden, just to see what would happen.

We already had the cold frame out, but still open. We closed it up and tucked some straw along the back edge to keep the cold air out.

We also put hoops and row cover over the main section of spinach and radicchio. Normally I’d leave those out, but I think this will be a bit cold all of a sudden.

I left some of the other spinach around the garden uncovered, including the Indian variety. (I don’t have great hopes for its cold hardiness!)

I harvested a few of the radicchio plants to see what stage they were at. I also harvested the watermelon radishes, fennel, half the bunching onions, and most of the dandelion greens. I was just going to leave the lemongrass, but then I just couldn’t let it go to waste, so it went to our Foods & Nutrition department.

I’ll post more pictures and show what I did with some of the different vegetables later in the week!

What’s a Frost? What’s a Freeze?

I saw this posted on Facebook this morning and thought it was really interesting!

Here is an excerpt from the Manhattan Community Garden Newsletter, written by Dr. Chuck Marr:

“You have often heard these 2 terms used interchangeably. However, for horticultural purposes there is something of a difference. This is forever etched in my brain since a former professor quizzed me about this in one of my final oral examinations. I think he wanted to demonstrate that he knew more about this topic than I did (and he won). A frost refers to ice crystals that form on various surfaces. This traditionally happens when a ‘radiational freeze’ occurs. As the night goes on, heat is lost from near the ground. Some plant tissues can be frozen at the outside edges while others areas inside the plant can be spared when heat gets trapped. It is easy to protect from this type of damage with some kind of insulating cover for 2-5 degrees below the freezing point. These radiational freezes often are difficult to predict and there will be some variation in locations from heat emitted from surrounding structures and cold air moving to low lying areas. A freeze usually refers to an ‘advective freeze’ when a large cold air mass moves into the area and freezing plant tissues happens. Old-timers often called this a ‘black freeze’ since there my not be any white colored frost but a lot of blackened plant tissue. In this case, there is generally a freezing of tissues equally all over the plant. These are harder to protect by covering although some protection may be gained. Forecasters can more accurately predict and estimate temperatures from this type of freeze so the temperatures are usually close to what is predicted everywhere. So, when you hear the weather forecast predicting a ‘frost warning’ or a ‘freeze warning’ this is what they are talking about. Both can damage plants but a frost is a lot easier to deal with than a freeze.”

Fall Gardening: Using Row Covers Successfully

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Using Row Covers Successfully

Row covers can be as simple as a thin, old sheet. However, for best success a lightweight, spun-bonded polypropylene fabric is recommended. This type of row cover can be found at local garden centers at certain times of year as well as through garden supply catalogs.

Row covers can be laid on the ground right over the plants to be protected or stretched over hoops. Because of frequent wind, it may be preferable to use hoops to prevent excessive rubbing of the row cover on the tops of the plants. As the weather gets colder, multiple layers of row cover can be used to provide a few more degrees of protection.

Row covers should be carefully secured on the edges so that the wind does not blow them off the plants. When using hoops, the tighter the row cover is stretched over the hoops, the better. The edges can be secured with bricks, cement block, heavy timbers, metal pins, or old milk jugs filled with water.

Video Wednesday: Low Tunnels

I know I’ve been harping on the fall gardening topics a lot and you’ve probably seen this video before, but just in case you haven’t…

Friday PhotoEssay & Link Around

Okay, so I don’t actually have much to share as far as a regular photoessay this week. The garden is just bare dirt at this point! Over the next few months, Friday’s will probably become more of a collection of links and videos rather than being so picture heavy.

Okay, so this rainbow of cayenne peppers is from a couple weeks ago when we were cleaning the garden out. Pretty cool that we got such a range of colors though! Read the rest of this entry