First Frost…

Frosted “Orange Magic” squash.

Our average first frost here is October 5, and surprisingly it arrived exactly on that date! I’d covered some things for a possible frost on Friday night, but it didn’t get that cold. The covers were left on Saturday, a day that started with a light mist that ended quickly…not even 1/4″, followed by bright sun and clear skies. When the moon is full this time of year, a frost is often likely, but again Saturday night no frost came. However in the wee hours of Monday morn, I awoke to glistening frost on the gazebo roof and deck railings reflected in our “security” light. In no hurry to face the damage, I dawdled and did the calculations of the September harvest numbers and wrote the “Monthly Review” post. Finally, after lunch it was time to venture out and face the destruction. I HATE that first killing frost, that brings so much to an abrupt end…

So, imagine my surprise when I stepped outdoors and saw that the Deck Garden flowers looked fine, even the zinnias and coleus. My step hurried a bit toward the potager, and I was amazed to see the potted “Juliet” tomatoes that grace each side of the front gate seemingly untouched. Yes, the late blight had crept a bit more, probably due to the light rain but there was no frost damage at all! Inside the potager’s fence, all the tomato and pepper plants looked fine. Even a row of late beans whose cover had blown off in spots were perky and green.

There were only two casualties, the “Orange Magic” squash shown above and two pots of sweet potatoes. The two squashes are a bit immature, so I’ll cook them soon. Since the sweet potatoes were “done” I decided to harvest those and began with the smaller pot, about 4 gallon in size that had been planted with 3 plants started from my 99 cent organic sweet potato purchased at the store way back in early February and suspended in a jar of water to grow “slips.”

Sure not much to look at now, but there’s treasure underneath those blackened leaves!

Interestingly, there were sweet potatoes right beneath the surface, and all the way to the bottom of the pot. Many of them curved as they grew against the pot’s sides. The yield from this pot was 6.5 pounds of lovely sweet potatoes!

6.5 pounds of goodness!

That was an excellent yield for one pot, so I was even more excited to harvest the big pot, probably three times the size of Pot 1.

If you look carefully, you might see the 2 sunflower stalks toward the back of this large pot. It’s nearly 3′ in diameter!

It also had 3 plants, started at the same time on the same original plant, and planted on the same day. The only difference is that the big pot also had 2 sunflower plants at the back.

I thought I had a photo of the sunflowers growing out of the pot, but apparently not! But here they are, so just imagine the stems going down into it!

Anticipation ran high as I began pulling out the frosted stems and then using my hands to dig out the soil, putting it into 5 gallon buckets. That soil will be added to some raised beds with lower soil levels, and the big pot will get new potting soil next year. I truly expected a larger harvest from the big pot, but surprisingly (at least to me) the yield was smaller!

only 4.75 pounds from the much larger pot! But they were straighter!

Our 10-day forecast has temperatures rising back into the mid-70’s, sunshine galore, with no chance of either rain or frost, so all the potager’s crops can continue to grow. There will even be more bouquets in my future, as the dahlias were untouched and are loaded with buds. Today, it’s very windy and the last of the walnuts are thumping down from the trees. I see lots of bending in my future!

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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14 Responses to First Frost…

  1. bcparkison says:

    How odd that there was no frost damage. And another week to grow…You are doing well

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  2. Washe Koda says:

    You have a lot of garden going on 🙂 Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  3. maybeillbecomeafarmer says:

    What a great yield from your sweet potato plants! So you need to grow sweet potato slips first rather than just planting the potato like with white potatoes?

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    • carolee says:

      One could probably plant a sweet potato, cut into sections that contain an “eye” like true potatoes, but it’s much more efficient to grow slips. I got 25 from my starter potato and could have had two dozen more, but I didn’t need that many.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I moan about the weather here but you have such extremes and such a short growing season! I am amazed and inspired by how much you produce in such tricky conditions. I tried to get sweet potatoes to sprout a few years ago but to no avail. A friend told me he couldn’t do it either but sent off for plants. I decided that they were quite expensive so have not pursued the idea. Yours did really well so maybe I should experiment again.

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    • carolee says:

      I just purchase an organic sweet potato at the store, or get one at farmers’ market so I know it hasn’t been treated with a spray or wax that prevents sprouting, which most sweet potatoes are especially if you are buying them in February, which is when I start mine. Now, that was a run-on sentence for sure!

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  5. Over Soil says:

    The last of our tomatoes have split, the berries on the hedges are soggy, but that is nature to be expected and that isn’t going bad. What is bad all the way through, destroying our environment and making people and wildlife homeless: it’s name is HS2.

    Like

    • carolee says:

      I had to Google HS2 before responding, ignorant American that I am. I have been on the train from London to the Chunnel, and must admit that it was a nifty way to make the trip. However, I can see your concerns for a second train. I feel the same way every time I hear Biden talking about expanding our highway system. Don’t we have enough roads and cars already? It’s about time that we make the environment the top priority, as we are losing species of everything, birds, insects, mammals, plants and more at an alarming rate that is growing exponentially!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Over Soil says:

        500 year old trees are not easily replaced. It is only going to cut 20 mins off the time. It will be needing to be replaced in 10 years. Oh and the cherry is that the NHS needs the money more.

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      • carolee says:

        Definitely good points. I’d hate to see old trees cut, too and 20 minutes doesn’t seem like that great a deal. The NHS workers should get some nice paid vacations once things settle…that would help them AND the tourist industry!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Over Soil says:

        Did you know that so far it has cost over £100BILLION and the track costs £307MILLION per mile. Well, that is where the money is going, not to the NHS, not to education, not to improve the roads and get rid of the pot holes, not to help those that are homeless (the opposite as some are having their homes pulled down for the HS2 and getting little compensation), not to the little groups that help the elderly, disabled… just for 20 minutes off of the time from Birmingham to London. It’s like some idiot took a ruler and drew a line. I will stop now before the expletives start.

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      • carolee says:

        Sometimes expletives are justified!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Over Soil says:

        I must admit, I love it when Janey Godley goes off on one with the native language Britain. Anyways, here Janey is doing her wonderful thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNdMuuF4uDM

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