Frost in the Vegetable Garden

pjsatsaco(z5ME)October 19, 2005

It might finally frost overnight Thursday in Saco, Maine. I can't visit my garden until 9pm that night. Should I take the flashlight and harvest in anticipation? What can stay and what would be ruined by the first frost? Should I just drape sheets and tarps over some items in my raised beds and not sweat it? I have the following still in the garden: Swiss Chard, eggplant, peas, butternut squash, leeks, carrots, beets, rutabagas, various hot peppers and green peppers,and lima beans. I am sure the leeks and carrots can stay but am a rookie still on dealing with frost and the end of the season vegetable gardening period. Even if the garden can escape a first frost this week will another week or so of time make a difference on the maturing of any of the above items?

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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

Use sheets and row covers or temp cold frames. Swiss CHard should have survived the frost for what it was, well mine did and it got to 26 degrees.Cover the rest and harvest those that are ready, pray and keep them covered for a few more weeks. good luck, fighting mother nature- she has a habit of getting to be quite the challenge. :)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 8:33PM
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Well, I took my flashlight and baskets and spent an hour harvesting things after 9pm last Thurs. Glad I did because the temp hit 28 degrees that night and the next night. I ended up with a few dozen green tomatoes, lots of green peppers and lots and lots of various hot peppers, four nice eggplant, six winter squash and a very nice harvest of lima beans. They were the biggest challenge to pick by flashlight! I had planted acorn squash right next to butternut squash and apparently some hanky panky occurred last summer because two vines produced seven large squash shaped more like acorn but the color of butternut...and much larger than the average acorn squash. I tried one Sunday. Very tough skin to cut through so baked it split in half like acorn and it tasted just like acorn squash. Was good so the other half-breeds will be enjoyed from my storage basket over time! By daylight I cleared the vines, stalks and debris from all of the above plants raised beds, added compost and raked smooth. I will soon add a solid cover of leaves mulched on my driveway with my good Toro mower. I am always amazed how the mountains of leaves get reduced to such a nice, workable, almost powder after going around in circles for awhile. I harvested my Swiss chard on Saturday and enjoyed it. Still have carrots, turnips, rutabagas, leeks and kale to enjoy over the next few weeks regardless of the weather. I also cleared the stalks and debris of many flowers that had been interspersed in the veggie garden beds, namely, marigold, salvia, snapdragon, and dahlias. I have a large pile of all this stuff now and not sure how to turn it into a more compostable size/texture. Don't think my lawnmower would appreciated that challenge and I don't have a shredder. Maybe it will get "thrown over the fence" to breakdown on its own pace. In a way I enjoyed looking at the empty, smooth garden beds now, for the end of the cycle of the garden season has been reached!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2005 at 11:58AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Just yesterday I was able to clean out my veg. beds except for the things still growing like carrots, leeks, etc. All warm-season plants hit by frost Thurs & Fri night, but we had to leave for the weekend for daughter's soccer tournament.

Could not imagine picking lima beans by flashlight, lol!

My favorite part of this time of year in the veg. garden is amending the beds. Each one I've cleared out I've spread compost and they are awaiting their mulch of shredded leaves. If things ever dry out long enough for us to mulch the leaves! I have been into collecting pine needles for mulch in the perennial gardens, my friend amassed 17 bags for me. Used the short window of non-rainy weather yesterday to spread what I could, the rest will be used for mulching the strawberries and winter-protection for the roses.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 6:38AM
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daylilylady(z5 ME)

veilchen, I put in several rose bushes this year...I think this weekend they'll be ready to be put to bed. How do you winter-protect yours?


    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 9:17AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Don't put them to bed yet! Except for giving them a top-dressing of compost and mulch, but don't add extra mulch over the crowns for winter protection yet.

What kind of roses do you have? Some of the hardier ones don't need any protection, would probably be better off without. Only winter-protect if you would be risking losing the rose if you didn't.

I use pine needles--they are light and airy and don't hold as much moisture as mulch, compost, straw, etc. Still not foolproof though. I don't apply them until around Thanksgiving--once the ground is frozen. About 12" high. If we were guaranteed a depth of that much snow all winter, I wouldn't winter-protect.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 5:09PM
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