Friday, December 19, 2008

After The Frost

Frosted and the next day

Be forwarned, this post is full of photographs that are not all that interesting, well there are a few nice ones, it's mostly documentation for my own information about how the garden was affected by the heavy frost the other night. For the most part the garden came through surprisingly ok.
The Purrfessor has arrived to help with the inspection.

First the ugly, but not unexpected.

The basil is truly done.

So is the Painted Serpent Cucumber.
I do have a couple of cucumbers left in the fridge that I picked recently.

The snow pea pods are zinged, but the plants are ok.
Unless the plants are done in by something fungal, they usually survive to produce a spring crop.

The few favas that survived the invasion of the maggots came through ok.

One big surprise, how well the tomatoes fared.

The newest growth, especially at the top of the plants, got zinged.

But the plants and fruit are still basically sound.
That's the mystery tomato, I wonder if I can get some viable seed to play with.

Ananas Noir

Eggplant with crispy leaf edges in the foreground, tomatoes behind.

I have had eggplant overwinter, so in spite of the eggplant not producing a single fruit since I can't remember when, I haven't pulled them yet. If they survive, it gives me a headstart on the eggplant season. None of these plants were covered during the frost.

The brassicas breezed through.
The Cavolo Nero is going to be extra tasty now.

The Piracicaba broccoli is still forming side shoots.

The Golden Chard was unfazed as well.

Lettuce, also left uncovered, ready to pick.

Aji Pineapple

Aji Pineapple I covered most of my potted chile plants as you see above. It's pieces of 6-inch square concrete reinforcing mesh bent over the plants and then covered with cloth. This was how I isolated the plants for seed saving purposes and I left the supports in place so I could cover the plants to protect them from frost. I was lazy though and didn't have pieces of frost cloth ready so I made do with the light weight row cloth that I used for seed saving. The Aji Pineapple did fine, other chiles did not do so well.

Aji Dulce #1 and #2, looking bad.

Most of the chinense chiles did not fare well. The St. Lucia Red and St. Lucia Yellow are both in bad shape, but then, they were in bad shape before the frost. The Belize Sweet also looks really bad. Aji Dulce #3 did poorly but is not entirely down. The same for the Tobago Seasoning and Grenada Seasoning. Another chile that didn't like the cold was Elsita, an annuum, but that plant never did do well.

Venezuela Sweet

The Venezuela Sweet and Datil Sweet chiles, both chinense chiles looked like the photo above, new growth damaged but the rest of the plant seemingly ok.

Thai Chile

The Thai Chile was complete unscathed by the frost. Now, this was the only chile plant that survived last winter - that's right - that plant is nearly 2 years old and the entire time it has been in my garden it has been outside. It did spend the frosty night inside the frost cloth covered cage you see behind it, but other plants that were sheltered fared worse. Last year I never covered it.

Aleppo Pepper

The Aleppo pepper came through quite well, some of the foliage that was touching the frost cloth got zapped. This was also the case for Aji Argentina, which is still covered with ripe (seemingly undamaged) chiles that I haven't gotten around to harvesting.

Doux D'Espagna sweet pepper

I didn't bother to cover this plant and it came through just fine. It was already looking a bit tired to begin with, but it basically looks no different now than before the frost.

Piquillo Peppers

I didn't cover any of the chiles that are planted in the ground. Most of them fared quite well, with damage to newest growth only.

Ciliegia di Calabria

The Ciliegia di Calabria had the most damage of the chile plants in the ground, you can see it above if you look closely, but the plants don't look all that bad. A couple of the Pimento de Padrons also had some damage. The Czech Blacks didn't seem damaged at all.

A few observations about the chile plants this year:

1. The chile plants that were never covered for seed saving purposes seemed to get through the frost with the least damage. None of the in-ground plants was ever covered, either for seed saving or frost protection and they had the least damage.

2. The chinense chiles that fared best were the ones that were the first to be covered this summer and consequently, the first to be uncovered. They had more time in full sun later in the season meaning that the later growth on the plants was tougher . Shaded plants grow thinner, more tender foliage which is why I think that the chinense chiles that got covered later in the summer tended not to take the frost as well.

3. The plants that were covered earliest also had the most pods for seed saving.

Conclusion: I need to get my plants covered for seed saving purposes as soon as the flowers start to open and keep them covered for the shortest time possible. This should also help with the aphid problem since the coverings create an environment in which the little buggers thrive.

The wild flowers did just fine.

Note how they only grow on one side of the fence. It was the other side of the fence that got seeded! The deer have kept the outside area cropped while the few plants that grew on the inside have thrived.

Miss Stella wants in and housebound plants want out.

I don't generally coddle plants by bringing them inside for the winter. The one exception I regularly make is for African Blue Basil. I usually try to propagate a few plants to grow the next year and they won't survive staying outside the whole winter. I try to put them outside when its sunny, if I remember, but they do ok by a sunny window. I also had one chile plant that never got moved out of its one-gallon pot that, what the heck, in you go!

The perfect shot of the snow capped Santa Lucia Mountains has been elusive,
here's the best I could do.


  1. Very useful documentation. It's interesting to see that the lettuce fared so well.

  2. Love the mountains. I have the same trouble getting a good shot of the snow-capped Pyrennees, but I think it may be that I need a better camera.

  3. Wow, your garden fared quite nicely through the frost. I've had enough of winter bring on spring.

  4. Susan, every once in a while I need to do what I purport to do on this blog!

    Jan and Steve, I definitely feel limited by my camera. My husband actually saved the insert in today's paper from the local camera shop to give to me.... hmmm!

    Ang, I'm with you, and winter has barely started around here!

  5. Wow, I am surprised how well your garden fared through a frost. It is amamzing to me that you still have tomatoes...ohhh how I miss fresh tomatoes.

    I love how you documented the frost and its aftermath with each plant, very revealing, great job! Kim

  6. Thanks Kim! It is amazing to have tomatoes in December, but I have to admit, they don't quite taste like "summer" tomatoes.

  7. The Calliopsis (I think that's what it is, isn't it?) looks great and no doubt the tomatoes too. Did you say boring? Now, you were kidding, weren't you? I totally enjoyed going through them. Such a variety!

  8. Thanks Chandramouli S. Some of the photos are a bit boring, frost nipped plants... The flowers (Coreopsis) I agree are pretty, and I always admire pictures of my cats (good or bad!). I'll be posting soon about how the plants are faring now - pretty sorry looking.


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