Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When first frost?

Someone just asked when is the first frost in our area. This is a more complicated question than it might appear.

Three years ago, I would have answered, "mid to late November."
However, both last year and the year before we had a light frost in October that killed first the Malabar spinach, then another that killed the basil and some tomatoes. The "killing frost" that did in the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant waited until November. I did cover them with burlap when the October frosts were predicted, so that helped -- but it won't work forever!

I heard an old farmers' tale decades ago that seems to be a good predictor. The first frost usually comes with a full moon. The Bartletts have found this to be usually true too. I assume it's because the gravity of the moon pulls the atmosphere away from the earth, leaving the growing things on the surface without the blanket they have at other times of month. That's my idea; I haven't read it anywhere. I think the scientific community doesn't believe in this old "myth," but the fact that the Bartletts have observed it to be usually true over a much longer period than I've been gardening suggests there is some validity to it.

Anyway, if low temps are predicted and it's full moon or near it, I take out those pieces of burlap I keep handy in the garage.

Perhaps I should add that lettuce and fall greens usually thrive until the holidays. I sowed some lettuce seeds within the past week. It surely seems unlikely today that we could have frost in a month, but life is full of surprises.


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