Avoiding a "frozen" vegetable garden

Throw an extra blanket on the bed, and one over your plants, we are in for a frosty night!

Temperatures overnight tonight will be falling into the 30s, and with mostly clear skies and light winds, we are seeing a great environment for frost!  It is a great idea to grab your potted plants and keep them in the garage or your house tonight to keep them warm.  But, what about all those plants that need to stay outdoors?  There are a few things you can do!

*The easiest thing...water them!

This might seem like the complete opposite thing you would want to do, so let me explain the science!

We will start with frost!  As the temperature decreases, moisture in the air condenses into dew.  Once temperatures fall to 32 degrees, the dew freezes, and you have frost!  As I mentioned earlier, most nights with frost are mostly clear or clear.  You will frequently hear me use the phrase "blanket of cloud cover" and that is a great way to explain what is going on!  When you have clouds, the Earth's heat is not allowed to escape (or as much as would be lost with clear skies), so the clouds act as a blanket for us at the surface...keeping us warmer.  Not the case tonight!

During the day, plants and soil absorb and store sunlight (heat).  As the sun does down, plants and the soil begin to lose their stored heat.  So, why would you water them?  Well, if you water plants before sunset, the soil will release moisture into the air during the night, keeping the air around the plants somewhat warmer.  The ground heats and cools much slower than the air.

*Keep them warm with a blanket!

Plants like to sleep with blankets, too!  They prefer to be covered with natural materials.  A bed sheet works great, so does a burlap sack (but who has those anymore?), even newspaper works fine as long as whatever material you chose is secured to keep all the heat from the Earth near the plants.  Just try and avoid throwing a trash bag over your garden...that will ensure you will be left with garbage!  And, don't forget to remove the blanket tomorrow, so your plants are able to breathe, and soak up the sunshine!

*Create a gentle breeze

This method is best for farmers who have a LOT of crops to worry about.  But, you can use a fan to create a breeze to prevent the cold air from settling near the surface.  Be really careful using this method, as dew/frost and electricity do not work well together. 

So now you know what to do!  But, I am sure many of you are wondering if you need to worry about a frost?  Check out Tom's blog for a map of the areas most prone to frost overnight!

Share this article: