Any gardener knows that you can’t grow much during the winter. But far too many of them will see damaged crops and unhealthy plots be not watching out for the first frost. Here’s what you need to know.
As the name implies, the first frost is the first day of the year that temperatures reach a freezing point (32 degrees F). This day is significant to farmers and gardeners because it both marks the season of cold weather and because it can do harm to your plants if you don’t prepare properly.
On the other side is the last frost, the day that it stops getting so cold. This is usually marked as the time to start planting crops again in the new year.
How to Prepare for the First Frost
The boring answer is that it depends on the plants you’re growing. Strawberries, for example, will “Winter over,” which simply means that they will go into a dormant state over the winter and will flourish next spring after the last frost. Others will die out if not taken inside. Regardless, here are some rules to follow that will be a general help.
- Bring plants inside if you can
We understand that not all plants can simply be uprooted or brought inside. My poor pepper plant is too large to bring in this winter, for example. In this case, make sure you research what kind of options those plants have for either wintering over or proper fallen plant matter.
- Harvest Your Crops
The first frost will more or less spoil any existing crops. It’s the same as why you shouldn’t freeze tomatoes multiple times, the freezing process damages the crop. If you want to ensure healthy yield, pick what crops you have left beforehand.
- Cover Your Garden, if Needed
Covering plants with frost cloth or cold frames can help minimize any cold damage dealt to your garden. This will be most helpful with perennials that survive through preserved roots.
- Winterize Everything Else
The lawn, the threes, shrubs, and any other perennial plants you want to survive the winter should be treated with winterizer fertilizer. More details about this can be provided by whichever brand of winterizer you purchase.
When is First Frost?
That depends entirely on climate and location. For the best information, we recommend using this online resource for finding your local frost dates.