25 May 2015

Killing frost

The good news is that the 20 greenhouse tomatoes are still going strong

It's a different story out in the barnyard, however. The weather took an unpleasant dip below freezing on Saturday May 23rd, leaving all the tomato plants looking like this at 7.00am:

And by the time the sun had warmed them up, they all looked like this:

This, dear reader, is a dying tomato. Today, all that's left of it is a sad little pile of brown.

I still had a few of my excess plants left, which I've been selling from my mini farm stand at the front of the house. In fact, a woman bought 30 dollars-worth on Saturday afternoon. She's a regular customer, so I couldn't say no, but my heart was breaking a little bit as I saw her leave with 70% of my remaining plants. This left me with just eight to replace the 40-odd I had lost.

I have sown some more, in a spirit of optimism, and have also pinched out side-shoots of some of the greenhouse plants, in the hope that they will root and be useful to fill some of the gaps.

I also discovered a couple of volunteer tomato seedlings growing in the pepper bed, so I have recruited them to the cause as well.

Then I remembered noticing some other stray tomatoes in the front garden: they must have grown from the worm compost I spread there in the spring. Sure enough, there was a respectable crop of baby tomato plants growing in among the flowers there. I dug them up and potted them into a seed tray. At this rate I will soon be over-run with tomato plants again. ;-)

Of course I have no idea what variety these little plants are, but they will all be from last year's fruit, so should all be heirloom types. I can't think of a better argument for growing heirloom plants and for home composting than this!

The frost was forecast - in a rather last-minute way - but the night before was very windy, so putting any sort of protection in place wasn't easy. I managed to cover up the corn and squash plants with plastic, but even with that layer, most of those died, too. They were only sown a week or two ago, so won't be as difficult to replace as the tomato plants.

The brassica plants survived the frost, but even they have suffered some damage - I think the temperature was more like -2°C/28°F than the 0°C/32°F that was (eventually) forecast. Ah well, lesson learned: wait until June to be safe.


Linda aka Crafty Gardener said...

I had my tomato plants covered and still lost some of them. It was strange, as with side by side plants one survived and one didn't. I trimmed off the sad looking ones and see a couple of green shoot, so I'm being optimistic and hoping they will grow. But I did replace the ones that got lost. Sure hope that frost doesn't come back till next Fall.

Susie said...

I also covered all of my plants and lost plenty. It was more than just frost - it actually dipped below zero and plants froze. Ugh. Mostly I lost pumpkins and squash but had extra so not too bad (and still time to start more from seed). Guess I got too anxious with the great weather earlier this month!

Sarah Battersby said...

Oh, so sad, Amanda. What a wicked spring.