The Weekly Digs #185

by Becky

First Frost

The first frost of 2022 came Monday, October 17th. It wasn’t too bad, 26ºF as a low. My green beans had a tiny bit of damage but came out pretty unscathed. Tuesday we were forecasted to get to 24ºF overnight. 

Everything was tucked in, covered with row covers and plastic, and ready. This year is definitely the earliest I’ve ever been fully ready for a frost. I woke up at 6am and looked outside. It was so frosty and white. It almost looked like snow because there was such a heavy frost!

I went over and checked the thermometer, 15ºF. I was surprised at such a low number so early in the year. 

Asian greens and cabbage on the left, green beans on the right. Sorry about the blurry photo.

After temperatures warmed up for the day, I went out to assess the damage. Green beans didn’t make it through the second night. They were SO CLOSE to harvest. Next year I’ll need to get them in the ground at the end of July if I want a fall harvest.

Cow peas and black beans also didn’t make it. Although, that was very planned for and we were able to harvest everything off the plants prior to the frost so no harm done there.

Cam and I attempted to cover the sweet corn, which also was very close to harvest but it was a lost cause. I knew when I saw the temperature there was no way the corn would survive. It was very damaged by 15ºF but it did make it through the first night fine.

Survivors included everything in my caterpillar tunnel (spinach, lettuce, carrots, turnips, radishes, broccoli) along with most of the cool season crops that were covered. Cabbages, rutabaga, beets, carrots, green onions, and asian greens look great. 

The shocker was the kale. I left it completely uncovered because in the past I’ve had it survive uncovered to 5ºF. But I think due to the quick temperature shift it wasn’t able to harden itself to the cold. A bunch of the kale froze but the stem is still living and will grow more.

So I’ll cover it from here on out next time a frost comes around.

My winter density lettuce was hardly damaged, it is in the same row as the kale. It was also uncovered. Photo is from after the frost!

Preserving the Last of the Warm Season Crops

Preserving this week included all the prefrost harvest. Some people love to do big harvests this way but for me it’s so overwhelming. It represents a big pile of preserving to do and feels daunting!

Usually, I pick only what I’m going to preserve or eat that day. Everything else hangs on the vines until it’s their turn to be picked and preserved. I believe the nutritional value stays higher doing the picking and eating or preserving right away too.

We preserved basil first by freeze drying it. I also froze the ripe tomatoes. At this point there are a lot of ripe tomatoes in the freezer but I got burned out of canning tomatoes last month and freezing was the best option.

I plan on semi-thawing them, taking off skins, and chopping for the freeze dryer. That will probably be a winter project.

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Joanna October 24, 2022 - 5:53 pm

Oh, man…I’m sorry about the green beans and corn, but hey…you learned a lot. It CAN be done just by planting a bit earlier. You all are doing such a fantastic job! God bless you all so much

Cheryl October 26, 2022 - 10:26 am

Wow, that’s too bad. 15 is so cold!! We don’t usually see those temps til December at least, sometimes January. And we are in zone 6a. We have had a couple of light frosts, but not a killing freeze yet. And the 10 day shows 39 as our lowest temp. Crazy. Flowers in November.

Linda E. October 27, 2022 - 1:04 am

Wow, your harvest is so beautiful and abundant! The butternut squash are so big – mine didn’t do well this year, got attached by thrip and ended up very few and small. What type of materials do you use to cover your winter crops? I am going to try to overwinter kale, spinach and carrots this year. I have broccoli and cauliflower in now, but I am not sure if they will make it to harvest, I planted them pretty late. I am in zone 7a or 7b.

theseasonalhomestead October 30, 2022 - 2:30 am

Thanks! I use Agribon+ AG-30. Sometimes if a crop freezes easily I will also add plastic over that. Any plastic will do, but I did buy a special kind this year that is better for long term use. It’s Tufflite Nursery Clear. All the materials I get from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.


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