Mid-October in Virginia and it’s beautiful! I wish I could have stopped time today so that the eventual freezing temperatures that are coming soon, could be postponed even longer.
The garden is lush and green and various cover crops spaced throughout make it look even more so.
- Peppers are almost 6 feet tall and decorated profusely with fruit.
- Tomatoes are still coming.
- Greens beans are delicious and give every indication of producing prolifically until a freeze.
- Henderson limas are producing abundantly.
- The eggplant that looked absolutely pitiful until September, now has fruit and has transformed into a beautiful plant.
- Peas are starting to bloom, so I might get a fall crop after all.
- Lettuce, mache, cress, arugula, endive, and few other greens are finally coming up everywhere I planted.
- Yellow squash is slow growing but abundant.
- Still getting a few zucchini.
- Radishes at last are filling out and looking great.
- Still eating onions and potatoes from the garden.
- And in spite of the crickets a few beets and carrots are growing.
- All butternut squash is harvested.
- I even have a harvest from my experimental tomatillo plants.
- Only a few figs because of the severe cold last winter.
- A few raspberries here and there.
- And last but not least, a few fresh strawberries from the 3 Mara des Bois strawberries I plant in the spring.
Preparing to Extend the Season
I’m watching temperatures in the 10 day forecast. I’ve noticed this year that when colder nighttime temperatures have been predicted, the actual temperature has been a bit colder than what was called for. I’ll keep that in mind when I’m trying to protect things like tomatoes and peppers to extend the season.
When temperatures below 40 are in the forecast I check at least one of the Frost/Freeze Advisory maps.
Links to Frost/Freeze Advisory Maps
This is one I like a lot: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/largemap.php It’s color coded and you can see at a quick glance if frost is forecast for your area. Then you can click on your area. It will enlarge so you can pinpoint the prediction even more.
This one is a good one too: http://www.weather.com/maps/activity/garden/usfrostandfreezeadvisories_large.html
There are more, but those two will give you a quick reference.
Here’s an Almanac site that you might want to review each year until you know the information well. It gives you tips to how to predict the arrival of frost.
Here’s a cut paste of just the tips from the Almanac site:
Consider these factors when the radio and TV reports say “frost tonight.”
• How warm was it during the day? If the temperature reached 75 degrees F (in the East or North) or 80 degrees F (in the desert Southwest), the chance of the mercury falling below 32 degrees at nighttime is slim.
• Is it windy? A still night allows cold air to pool near the ground; a light breeze stirs things up; a heavy, cold wind sweeps away warm air near the ground.
• Is it cloudy? If the Sun sets through a layer of thickening clouds, the clouds will slow radiational cooling and help stave off a frost.
• What is the dew point? As a rule of thumb, don’t worry about a frost if the dew point (the temperature at which water vapor condenses) is above 45 degrees on the evening weather report.
• How is your garden sited? Gardens on slopes or high ground often survive when the coldest air puddles down in the valleys and hollows.
• How far are your plants from the ground? Those plants that are close to the ground have a better chance of being protected by the warmth of the earth.
Making the Most of the Tips
If you’re new to all this, here’s a way to make the most of the Almanac tips:
- Read over the tips. (Why not print them out?)
- Visualize the area in your garden and/or yard that you think might apply.
- After the frost and/or freeze go out with your print out and see how the cold impacted various areas and which of the tips could have been applied to each area.
How the Information is Helpful
If you know that certain areas are not likely to be impacted by light frost, it could save you some time and effort when covering crops.
The tip on “dew point” is an easy one. And you can find the dew point on most internet weather forecasts.
Those of us who live in areas that are still free from frost and freeze are still able to enjoy our gardens. Even after frost, if we’ve been able to prepare, we should be able to still be harvesting some warm weather crops such as tomatoes, squash, beans, and peppers.
After they’re finished, we still have the cool weather crops.
And if we’ve prepared with hoop tunnels or cold frames, we can probably enjoy greens sporadically through out the winter. Aren’t we lucky ducks!
Fall gardening Pictures and notes
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