Friday, May 6, 2011
May Sixth Frost
When we were searching for our retirement land, several factors defined our choice. Since Ed still had at least seven more years of employment, our land had to be within reasonable driving distance of his job. We wanted to be near water but away from floods. Frost never was a factor as we knew little of how it formed. So we placed ourselves on a shelf overlooking the river with high ridges to our southeast. Little did we know how those ridges would impact our garden.
Cold air is required for frost to form. The battle between the warmth of the surface of the ground and the cold that settles from the sky seems focused here. The ridge in the picture has another higher ridge behind it. A swirling rolling river of cold pours down these slopes heading straight toward us. Our small notch funnels this cold as it sweeps from left to right in our front yard. Low ground is heavily frost coated while little frost formed at the base of our ridge in the shadow of bushes.
A cold north wind yesterday clearly announced the coming frost so preparations were made. Every plastic garbage can, bucket, dish pan and pail that we could find were pressed into service to cover tender plants. Lilies are particularly prone to frost damage so last fall many of the bulbs were placed in deep pots. Moved to a central location the group could be covered with a tarp. When June finally arrives the lilies will be planted out around the garden.
A sheet covers recently transplanted lettuce plants. Buckets cover lily plants that were assumed lost to last year's hard late frost. An old plastic table cloth covers the tree peony. We have a problem with the latervfrosts. Many of the protected plants will outgrow their covers. A bud tip pressed against a cold cover will burn and die. Try we must. If we do not wait for the sun to melt the frost before we venture out to inspect, every footprint in the frosted grass will turn black. Wait we will, then it is out and back at it.