Friday, June 3, 2011
Everywhere we went yesterday there was talk of frost. Our weather had been coming from the Gulf of Mexico. Daytime temperatures and humidity were oppressively high but we resisted the temptation to set out the tender plants. Long term forecasts convinced us to plant out the tomatoes on May 31st. Stakes were cut and the tomato plants were widely spaced to try and avoid last year's late blight experience. All seemed right with the tomato patch.
Then the wind shifted coming from the north. Clouds cleared with an unmistakable chill in the air.
The decision was made to protect the tomatoes by uprooting them and then placing the plants in the basement. Old plastic dishpans serve many functions in the garden. Now each variety of tomato was placed it its own container. Understand that these were not nursery plants. We had started them from seed. Exposure to sunlight was gradual as the plant trays were moved outside when conditions permitted. Each night trays were moved back into the basement until the nights became warmer.
Here is the aftermath of rescuing tomatoes. Cut worm collars hold on to stakes and depressions mark the surface of the bed. One saving grace was that the straw cover had yet to be installed. Frost warnings have been issued for tonight so the basement is filled with plants for another day.
Growing lilies here has been made difficult by late frosts. Last fall many of our lily bulbs were transplanted to large plastic pots. The pots were gathered together in a sheltered location and sunk to their rims in garden soil. We planned to use a tarp to cover the lot when frost threatened. That worked well when the plants were short but now several were approaching three feet tall and were covered with buds. Pots were levered out of the ground and lilies moved to the basement. Other lilies had been left out to overwinter in the ground. Yesterday, several of these were potted up and moved to the basement.
Frost did reach the ground here last night. White was the color of the frost drain across our garden before sunrise. Depressions in the ground were also white with frost nearer the house. The hood of the car was coated with liquid dew while the roof held frozen dew. We had condensation, both liquid and frozen and we had water vapor go directly to solid forming frost. Our frost was light but real. Our preparations may have been excessive but how does one know in advance what the outcome will be?