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First frost of the season...

Posted by mulberryknob z6OK (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 26, 12 at 21:31

inside the greenhouse. The big room with the in-ground salad beds got down to 25 last night with 17 outside. That's colder than it got last year (26) on the coldest night of the year (12). But unlike last year this cold night followed a cloudy day and was accompanied by a cold north wind all night. We covered the beds with doubled sheets so the damage was minimal, but still some things frosted, especially near the glass. The hot room with two small electric heaters bottomed out at 35 degrees so everything in there looks ok. I need to buy a couple more min/max thermometers to tuck inside the seed starting benches when I start seeds next month.

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RE: First frost of the season...

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 27, 12 at 10:17

thats pretty chilly. the heaters in your heated room are they just to stop a freeze or are you trying to maintain a warmer temp?

I went out in ours this morning. 22 outside 62 inside. Its just 10x12 hoop house with solid end walls but I have to try and maintain 55 for my citrus to keep growing. Its coming in handy though because we started some veggies without heat mats.


RE: First frost of the season...

Dorothy, Our tomatoes and peppers in the unheated greenhouse froze a while back, but the lettuce has been chugging along. Some of it has begun to bolt because the afternoons got so hot when I was trying to build up enough natural heat inside of it on sunny afternoons to help the warm-season plants survive the night. We had tomato plants producing fruit through mid-December with no added heat, so I have no complaints.

This week the lettuce out in the greenhouse still looks the same---a handful of plants are bolting, but most the plants look fine with only a tiny bit of frost or freeze damage. Our low temps have been really low so I am surprised that anything in the greenhouse has made it this far.

The lettuce plants in the large cattle trough outdoors are in the best shape of all. None of it has bolted and, surprisingly, the plants have shown only the teeny-tiniest bit of frost or freeze damage. Before it began snowing, I added a third layer of water-filled Tidy Cat litter buckets to the gigantic wall of water that surrounds the cattle trough hoping to trap enough warm air under the blankets to keep the lettuce alive.

I covered the entire thing--the wall of water of litter buckets, the trough etc. with layers of blankets. I then put a second layer of blankets on top of the first, with thick comforters over the top to keep the air space above the lettuce enclosed and warm. After all the rain, snow and cold temps, the lettuce looks fine. I uncovered it today as soon as the temperatures climbed above freezing around noon. I have all the blankets spread out on the covered patio to hopefully dry off and will recover the lettuce before sunset.

I never thought the lettuce outside would last so long, and my lettuce-loving DH is so thrilled that it has.

Even if the greenhouse and cattle trough lettuce died, the lettuce in the wheelbarrow is fine. I just wheel it into the garage on cold nights and cold days and wheel it back outside when the temperatures warm up. For the record, the three rows of lettuce in the big garden froze to the ground on the night we went down to 11 degrees a while back. Prior to that it had survived a lot of temperatures in the upper teens. I think the trees just outside the garden fence provided it with a little protection at least for as long as they had their foliage.

My fig trees and brugs are in the garage and will stay there until it warms up more, and my potted citrus trees and potted rosemary are in the breakfast room near a south-facing window.

Mike, I've so far avoided having to heat the greenhouse at all. It is a hoophouse either 10 or 12' wide and 24' long. I just don't want the expense of running a heater all winter in there. I may have to heat it when I have more seedlings in it in late winter or early spring, but last year was a warm winter and I didn't have to heat it at all. We've already been much colder several times in the last 6 weeks than we were all of last winter, and it looks like the winter overall will be colder so I am not going to get in a hurry to get any seeds started in the greenhouse. I do have a big lightshelf inside for starting seeds that holds 20 flats, so I don't have to be in a hurry to move anything outside until the seedlings get pretty tall.


RE: First frost of the season...

MK, This year is an experimental one for us. I have 6 tomatoes in 18 gal pots and several large houseplants in there. Nothing too tropical. So this year I'm just trying to prevent a frost. Probably won't try to overwinter tomatoes started as late as I did this year. So far only Chadwick's Cherry has fruit. The others all have blooms, but a couple plants did frost a bit near the glass one night. I may forget about having a "hot room" in the greenhouse and move my tender houseplants back to the sunporch where they have wintered for many years. Being attached to the house and insulated overhead, it is easier to heat. I won't bring the seedstarting benches back though, because I can heat them individually.

Dawn, our salad stuff came through better than I thought. Several plants--cress, radish, bok choy--near the glass looked frosted, but as soon as it warmed up, they looked fine. The production has slowed, but we are still managing to get a salad most days. We love lettuce (and spinach and chard) too.

RE: First frost of the season...

Dorothy, I'm glad your salad plantings perked up and looked better. Ours do that sometimes after they thaw out a bit.

Don't get me wrong. I like lettuce and other salad greens. It is just that Tim is simply obsessed with them. When he was stuck in Dallas during the snow storm's aftermath, did he ask me about us? the animals? the house? No. He sent me a woefully sad text message like "I guess the lettuce all froze?" I was able to assure him after I uncovered it that the lettuce, mustard, Swiss chard and kale still lives. I thought about sarcastically adding "we are still alive too", but then I figured out he'd know that since I obviously was alive enough to text him back and tell him his salad greens were still alive. Usually by now they've frozen so much they aren't worth eating, but their quality remains good so far this winter.

I'll start new lettuce and cool season greens seeds soon for transplanting in February and March. By then the plants we have will be getting pretty ancient for lettuce plants. That's assuming another spell of bitterly cold weather doesn't get them.

I still have a lot of cabbage left, both in the refrigerators and in the ground. The stuff in the ground looks fine. We just haven't been home enough lately to eat it up quickly enough. There's worse problems to have than an excess of cabbage though.


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