How To Keep Your Garden Growing Despite Pending Frosty Temperatures

Sep 20, 2018

image courtesy
Credit J-O Eriksson

Locations around the region could soon find “frost is on the pumpkin” as night time temperatures drop into the 30s.

Many home gardeners want to prolong the growing season when the first frosts threatened produce. Crops like cabbage, kale and broccoli can handle a frost or light freeze. But warm season crops like tomatoes, green beans and corn need protection.

Yellowstone County Extension Horticulturist Amy Grandpre offers advice on keeping growing season going.       

Amy Granpre: The first thing you are going to want to do is get something that is going to cover the area thoroughly, actually going to meet the ground so that you’ve got it well insulated.

And I also recommend that, for instance, if you’re are covering a patch of pumpkin, or something, to put a lawn chair or something out there to keep the coverage off the foliage. Because wherever you have the coverage touch the foliage, you will have frost damage go through those. (Plastic, blankets or even bedding sheet can work for your coverage.) You want to try to cover them up before the frost happens. If you are using plastic, then the next morning be sure you that you monitor that a bit. Once the temperatures get up above freezing, you want to uncover it again otherwise then things will get too hot and you’ll go them other direction and cook things.

Kay Erickson: How long can you tempt fate?

AG: You just kinda have to go with the flow; depending on how long the frost lasts. Sometimes we have a nice Indian summer and we don’t have to worry about it much. A lot of us folks live in areas that you might hear a temperature in the upper 30s and you still might want to cover because some patches are lower and they get the frost anyway.

Credit Kay Erickson/YPR

Kind of be aware of your location, too. Those are kind of the basics. You just have to see what there is to harvest. If there are still tomatoes to harvest, that you want to ripen a little bit more, I would also suggest that people pick the red ones as soon as they can, even the ones that are blushing some. And that will put more of the energy into those that are not ripen yet.”

Grandpe says eventually many tire of covering the plants or have picked enough of the crops to let the garden go.