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.”
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!