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Prepare the Garden for the First Frost

At the end of every growing season, it is important to prepare the garden for the first frost so that you do not get any unpleasant surprises. Whether you plant to protect your crops to keep them around after an early cold snap, or you are ready to pull them before winter sets in, there are several things to consider as you plan for the first frost.

Prepare for Colder Days

It can be difficult to know when to try to protect your crops and when to let them go, but here are a few things to consider as you plan your next steps for your fall garden.

  • Summer crops: Tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, etc. will be killed by temperatures below 32. It is worth protecting them when there is a chance of a very early frost, but they will only survive winter in a heated greenhouse.
  • Cool season crops: Cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard, etc. will survive a light frost, but temperatures around 26 degrees are considered a hard freeze, or a killing frost. Keeping these plants alive through winter will require frost cloth or cold frames. With either of these options in place, it is possible to keep the hardiest of cold weather veggies alive through spring.
  • Location: Some of us live in frost pockets while others live in more protected areas. During the first hard freeze of this year, many people had damage even to their hardiest crops. In my garden, I didn’t even lose all of my summer plants. My elephant ears and morning glories both survived, indicating a difference of around 15 degrees between the coldest and warmest areas during that time. It is important to know if your garden is in a frost pocket. If it is, pay extra attention when the weather man lists those cold temperatures because your garden could be up to 10 degrees colder than he anticipates!

Preparing the garden for the first frost can be a little sad. It’s difficult to say goodbye to all those beautiful plants we have worked so hard to keep alive all year. It is, however, nice to have a bit of a break from working in the garden. Not only does our soil get a chance to rest, but so do our bodies and brains. By the time next season comes around, we will be rested up and ready to take on the world!

Will you be gardening through the winter or taking a break?


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