When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was to check the thermometer. It read 33°F (0.5°C). But it was still dark out, so I knew the numbers would probably drop at sunrise like they always do. My concern? My tomatoes!
After chores I went to inspect the garden.
|Frost on comfrey.|
|Frost on strawberries.|
|Frost on catsear.|
Frost is beautiful, but deadly to tender species like tomatoes. Last night, I took precautions and covered each of my baby tomato plants with jars.
|Canning jar greenhouse domes on tomato seedlings.|
|Are you still alive in there, little tomato plant?|
From the traditional last frost date, I knew I was transplanting early and possibly taking a chance. But the weather has been so pretty and it seemed like freezing temperatures were behind us for the year.
In my mind, my traditional last frost date is around April 20 to 22. To refresh my memory, I got out Dick Raymond’s Joy of Gardening. The copyright date is 1982 and it was Dan’s first gardening book. It lists the last expected frost dates for my area as April 10 to May 10. That’s quite a range. Updated dates, however, now list my last expected frost date as anywhere from April 3 to April 15 (they seem to vary depending on whose chart it is).
My takeaway from all this isn’t so much a lesson learned as it is a confirmation of something I figured out years ago—always prepare for the extremes, not the averages. The extremes, whether temperature, rainfall, or whatever, don’t pop up often, but when they do it’s a relief to be prepared for them.
And my tomatoes? After the sun melted the frost from the jars, I removed them.
About half of my tomato seedlings look pretty good. About half look wilty. I watered them all with tepid water and now I wait and see. I will likely loose some, but the survivors will be good for seed saving, don’t you think?
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