We've been quite busy here at the PCR the past few weeks. Normally, Spring is a busy time of year with planting, upgrading beds, composting, transplanting, etc. This year is no exception to that but with an added bonus of "what will the weather be like today"?
If you read my last post, I was pretty adamant about waiting to plant out certain varieties of veg and flowers and this past week is exactly why. We have had three nights of frost - in MAY! While not unheard of, it is pretty unusual. We have had to cover multiple crops and sections of our formal garden to protect the perennials such as peonies, foxglove, dahlias, etc. We have also had to use miniature hoop houses to protect the potatoes. To be honest, some of this helped but we still have had frost damage.
We use old curtains and bedsheets to cover the susceptible plants. Always use fabric, never plastic!
So what should you do if you have frost damaged plants? First, water them! I know it seems counter-intuitive but water helps them recover from the shock. When plants freeze water is removed from the cells; watering replenishes what they lost. Secondly, do not prune them just yet. In the case of a light freeze, it's usually best to let the damaged bits fall off on their own. If there is significant damage from a hard freeze, It's best to wait to prune them until the weather warms up a bit so as to not add additional stress to the plants. Third, wait to fertilize until after you've pruned them.
How did we fare? Well, we're in the "wait and see" phase right now with our potato plants. They have frost damage to most of their leaves. We've watered them and now we wait...
Luckily, the peonies have escaped unscathed. The only damage was a couple of broken stems due to the coverings. The foxglove, rose of sharon, salvia and dahlias also all have foliage damage. Most of this came from one night they were not covered (we didn't have a frost watch....and it frosted). The potted plants all came inside (citrus, lavender, dahlias, tender annuals) and will go back out later on today. We lost all of our newly planted corn, as we did not cover it. We will be starting new plants downstairs and plant them out in a couple weeks, as well as, directing seeding the beds. You win some and you lose some...but we are constantly learning!
As gardener's we do our best to take care of our plants, however, Mother Nature always has the final say. You just have to figure out what that is.
The Pirate Chicken