Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The “official” median date for the first frost in Bucks County is October 6. That means that about half of the time we will have received temperatures below 32 degrees before this date and half of the time it will be later. My unofficial observations over the last 25 year tells me that by Columbus Day we have usually had a light frost and a real “killing frost” comes later the month.
Mother Nature is right on schedule. My garden was nipped over the weekend but got the killer on Monday night when the minimum/maximum thermometer read 24 degrees. I anticipated the demise of my zucchini and peppers and harvested the last of these on Saturday.
Of course, this does not mean the end of the gardening season. Lettuce, cole crops, and even carrots stand up well to these temperatures and keep on growing. Growth is slowed but in the case of the lettuces and cole crops this simply means that they will hold very nicely in the garden. Their growth is so slow that it’s kind of like and extension of your fridge. I plan to harvest lettuce right up until Thanksgiving. I’ve had lettuce at Christmas.
It is too late to plant much of anything except garlic. But if you have not enjoyed the pleasure of a fall garden, try to remember to keep planting in August and September 2009.
Finally, if you have not used floating row covers to extend your gardening season in early spring and late fall, check them out. They can provide a few degrees of frost protection and trap daytime heat to boost growth in cool temperatures. Most gardening catalogs sell them.