Friday, September 1, 2017
September First Frost
Just to be clear, this post title refers both to the first frost of the season and the fact that it occurred on the first day of September. Located in the Southern Tier of New York, we are accustomed to seeing the aftermath of a late September frost some years but never this early in the month. The weather service did not speak of possible frost last night but mentions it for tonight. Last night's forecasted low was in the mid forties. We have been here long enough to know the likelihood of frost in our location when the weather station expects numbers in the forties. It came as no surprise when we looked out this morning and saw wilted leaves on the squash.
The pattern of the damage raises more questions than answers about the actual movement of the cold air that caused the damage. Long after we placed our garden we observed the pattern of frost on the grass. Cold pours down from the high ridge behind the ridge that we can see from here and its path is defined by our low notch. That river of cold follows the contour of the lower ground and finds an exit toward the west. Unfortunately for us, a wide bend in that river washes over much of our garden. The basil is planted on slightly higher ground and escaped any damage last night. We hope that it remains undamaged come morning.
When I first came to this area little more than one half of a century ago, the old timers spoke of the year without summer. They had heard stories from men much older than themselves of a year when frost formed every month of the year. Only July and August are usually free of freezes but there are old tales of frost then. If the frost formed before midnight last night, then we just experienced frost in August. So in this youngster's memory, frost eleven months out of the year is possible but rare. A July frost seems highly unlikely but who is going to argue with tales from the collective memory of old timers.
This is just a little good news. Ingaborg gave us these plants many years ago and we refer to them as Inga's mallow. They self seed and reappear in many places in the garden. They can be transplanted if the move is completed early since they grow from a taproot. These beautiful flowers never fail to spark fond memories of a true master gardener.
This is the season of mums in front of many stores. We prefer to grow our own but the plants prefer a warmer location. This Mammoth Pink has held its location near the south facing house wall for the past two years. It is self shaped since we never get around to that task. These flowers should be fine tomorrow since our frost river flows far away from this spot.