Our Garden’s First Freeze and How We’re Handling It

You guys know I’m a newbie gardener, so this weekend will be the first time we’ve dealt with a freeze in our garden.

Here’s a list of some pointers that have been posted on the various groups I’m part of, as well as on the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension article on Cold Protection.

I thought I’d share for those who don’t have time to do the research.

My next step was to list everything in the garden that we didn’t want to lose or that was close to harvest. I made a coded list of what we planned to do with each one.

Some things are tropical. Ideally, they would be dormant right now. But, of course, it’s Florida, so things get weird. We had temps in the 80s just a couple of weeks ago so the plants that had been dormant started to bud, flower and grow. So nothing is dormant as it should be. We’ll do our best to protect each one in the best way.

Tropicals that are too big to be moved or that are in the ground will be mulched with yard clippings and leaves. Our neighbor just blessed us with 9 bags of oak leaves that will do a nice job for that. We also can use the straw that we use for mulching our garden beds.

Some of the tropicals will also be covered with sheets and we’ll add a string of Christmas lights underneath to add to the ground’s radiant heat.

We’ll be grouping our strawberries and blueberries together and placing a bucket of hot water underneath the covering as well. We’ll try to put that out as late as possible, and will need to replace it each night that we have the coverings in place.

We have several 5-gallon buckets with peppers, tomatoes, chick peas and Cape gooseberries. We’ll cluster these with a sheet and lights too. A couple we will bring in, especially if we only have one of those – namely, the Cape gooseberry and the Katuk.

Some of the smaller plants that are in the garden beds will get a tarp installed over a frame, as well as a little extra mulch around their stems. Finding a frame is easy enough – we have several crates we’ll use and some lawn chairs that can be turned upside down over the plants that will do the job, too. We also have a few plastic jugs that we’ll cut the bottoms out of and install on top of fragile plants.

The onions, garlic and sweet potatoes are all underground, and we’re hoping that the temps in our area won’t be cold long enough to affect them.

We also made of list of those plants that need to be harvested if at all possible:

There won’t be a lot of this stuff ready, especially after the frost on Sunday night, but we’ll check on each of them any way.

So…this is our plan. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. If you’re an experienced Florida farmer and see a flaw in my plan, please let me know! We’d like to do our best to salvage what is still growing and to save those tropicals and natives that we’ve spent money on this past year.

I’ll do my best to do a timely follow up post.

Until then, stay warm – wherever you are!

In Him,

Alesha Kay

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