How to predict a frost
(Chance favors the prepared gardener!)

By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder for PlanTea, Inc. and
Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul


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It's late fall. The sky is blue and the sun is bright. Then the weather forecaster brings your autumn bliss to a screeching halt with these chilling words: Clear tonight with chance of frost.

Fortunately, it's possible to predict whether frost will hit your plants by being an informed gardener. Walk outside and check for these signs. Then, if necessary, spring into action. (To learn what weather conditions are predicted for your area, check in with The Old Farmer's Almanac).

First, look skyward: Clear, calm skies and falling afternoon temperatures are the perfect conditions for frost. If you see clouds, you're in luck, because clouds act like a blanket, trapping heat and keeping air temperatures warm enough to prevent frost.

Feel the breeze: If temperatures are falling fast under clear skies, and the wind is blowing from the northwest, a hard freeze may be on its way. On the other hand, a gentle breeze is good because it prevents the coldest air from settling to the ground.

Humdity and moisture: Just as clouds and gentle winds are your friends, so are humidity and moisture. When moisture condenses out of the air in the form of ice crystals it gives off heat, which protects plants from extensive damage.

Where your garden is located also plays a role. High altitude gardens are more likely to be hit by a freeze. At the same time, if your garden sits in a low spot, frost will settle there like ice cream in the bottom of a bowl.

What's your soil like? Deep, loose, fertile soil releases more moisture into the air than thin, sandy or nutrient-poor soil. Here's another thing: plants with deep red or bronze leaves tolerate frost better because dark leaves absorb and retain heat.

So you've checked the weather conditions and decided that yes, Jack Frost is knocking on your door and it's time to protect your plants. The first and best thing to do is cover your plants. Use 5-gallon buckets, bed sheets, shower curtains, tarps, anything to provide a tent to trap heat and prevent ice crystals from forming on the plants.

Remember, chance favors the prepared gardener!

Until next time, keep your hands in the dirt, and your dreams on a star.

-- Marion Owen



Thanks for visiting and please stop by again. I'll put the coffee on!


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