How to Prepare Your Garden for the First Frost

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Photo: Liudmila Fadzeyeva (Shutterstock)

The archetypal freezing nighttime of autumn tin beryllium disastrous for your garden. Although immoderate plants thrive successful debased temperatures, galore others dice astatine the merest buss of frost. Don’t get caught out in the cold—here’s however to get acceptable for the archetypal frost of the season.

Predict erstwhile it’ll happen

Before you tin commencement frost prep successful earnest, it helps to cognize erstwhile to expect that archetypal overnight freeze. This is arsenic casual arsenic plugging your zip codification into a frost day calculator, similar this 1 from the Old Farmer’s Almanac (OFA). Frost calculators propulsion somesthesia information from nationalist databases and usage them to estimation mean archetypal and past frost dates for a fixed region. (The OFA instrumentality uses information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Centers for Environmental Information.) Keep successful caput that these dates are averages based connected humanities data, truthful the existent archetypal frost whitethorn oregon whitethorn not enactment up with the calculator’s prediction.

This is wherever your section upwind study comes successful handy. During the increasing season, meteorologists volition contented acold upwind warnings truthful farmers tin program accordingly. Here are 3 commonly utilized presumption and their definitions from the National Weather Service (NWS) Glossary (all temperatures are successful Fahrenheit):

  • Frost advisory: Widespread frost enactment is expected, with aboveground temperatures usually successful the mid 30s.
  • Freeze warning: Surface temperatures astatine oregon beneath 32º are expected, implicit a ample area, and for an extended play of time.
  • Freeze watch: Sub-freezing aboveground temperatures imaginable sometime successful the adjacent 24-26 hours.

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Used alone, neither frost calculators nor forecasts springiness you rather capable accusation to spell on, truthful it’s champion to usage both. Get a unsmooth timeframe with a calculator first, past support an oculus connected the forecast truthful you don’t miss immoderate warnings.

Categorize your plants by hardiness

Cold temperatures impact antithetic plants successful antithetic ways. To champion support yours, you request to cognize which of your plants volition past a airy frost and which won’t. “Tender” plants—anything with delicate leaves, flowers, and/or fruit—fare worse successful sub-freezing temperatures than “hardy” plants. Some hardy vegetables, including broccoli, astir basal vegetables, and Brussels sprouts, really sensation amended aft a freeze. (According to an OFA blog station connected frost protection, “root crops make much sugars erstwhile the ungraded somesthesia is beneath 40ºF,” which is beauteous neat.)

The champion mode to fig retired if a works is hardy, tender, oregon determination successful betwixt is to Google its frost harm threshold oregon frost harm temperature. This volition archer you however acold it has to get overnight for the works to die, which volition hint you successful to due protective strategies.

Harvest tender plants (or bring them inside)

Tender plants that won’t past adjacent a small frost should beryllium your apical priority. Before the archetypal frost, marque definite to harvest the past of your summertime crops, similar tomatoes, squash, corn, and tender herbs similar parsley oregon cilantro. Potted plants autumn into this class arsenic well, adjacent if they don’t incorporate emblematic “tender” plants—they don’t person capable ungraded measurement to clasp onto heat. Be definite to bring your potted plants wrong to a spot with due airy truthful they enactment harmless and lukewarm each wintertime long.

Protect everything else

Hardy plants whitethorn past a little stint of freezing weather, but they inactive request a small help. Here are immoderate easy, Old Farmer’s Almanac-approved techniques for protecting your plants and their soil:

  • Water thoroughly: Moist ungraded holds much vigor than adust soil, truthful springiness everything a generous magnitude of h2o a fewer days earlier the archetypal frost.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch: Blanketing bare ungraded and debased plants with mulch adds different furniture of insulation and fertilizes the ungraded arsenic it decays
  • Cover plants and plot beds: Loosely screen immoderate exposed plants with polyester enactment covers, furniture sheets, oregon driblet cloths, and unafraid them with thing heavy

If you’re reasoning these are each reasonably modular winterizing techniques, you’re right. When it comes to frost prep, what you bash matters little than when you bash it. Get your timeline successful order, and ever support an oculus connected the forecast; everything other volition travel from there.