Saturday, May 16, 2009

Last Frost Day-Not.

In this area, our last frost day is May 15th which was yesterday. Last frost day is a misnomer though. It does not represent the last possible day to expect frost in your area, not even close. It represents the day where your odds for not seeing anymore frost for the spring start improving.

On last frost day the odds become 50/50 that you are done with frost for the year.

Not great odds.

We've had a wet but not all that cold spring. We haven't had frost for more than a month. I started putting tenders out a couple of weeks ago, but not too many. I put out only as many as I could cover and could afford to lose. I haven't babied these plants for months to let them go to 50/50 odds. My caution was warranted. Today, the sky was cloudless and a high pressure front rolled in. Frost is forecast for tonight and tomorrow night, then hopefully we will be done. Tonight should be the worst. The low is expected to be 32, but frost can happen at even higher temperatures so I'm not counting on anything.

Today, I had hoped to put a bunch more of the big tomato plants into the ground, but the recent weather and impending frost killed that plan. The ground was way too wet from Friday's deluge and since anything I put out today would need covering tonight, there was no point in rushing things out. Instead I trimmed 200 feet of hedge. Not a fun job, particularly since it hadn't been done for a year and half, due to home renovations. I lost count of the eight foot tall trees I cut out of that the thing. Hedge trimming did give me the opportunity to yank out the biggest weeds on the neighbor's side of the hedge before they went to seed, so besides the tidy hedge, there were other gains.

Hedge trimming took me to 5 o'clock and then it was time to tuck in the plants for the night. The circle bed and greens got covered with row cover.

The potatoes were easy. I just unrolled the sides of the sack and covered them up.

I didn't do much with the tomatoes in the big container. I stuck a gallon of water in front of them and a garbage bag that is half full of composting straw behind them. Hopefully, those little things plus being against the brick will keep them safe.

On the patio, two tomatoes got a tubberware bin (a future planter) placed over them. The coldframe got a blanket put over it and it's light bulbs turned on early. In the far back of this picture you can see a contraption of chairs and cushions covering the bay leaf and tomato container.

In the cherry bed I used a gallon of water and also a wall-o-water on two more tomato plants. Unprotected tonight are all the beans. I'm hoping they are small enough that it doesn't hurt them. There are also three other tomatoes in the garden and two tomatoes hanging off the balcony that are uncovered. *fingers crossed for them all!*

One thing I can say about gardening in Chicago. It's never ever dull!


Heather said...

I will keep my fingers (dirt encrusted) crossed for you that it all goes well with the frost. It looks like you have it all handled.

Daphne said...

Good luck with it all. I'm a little worried about our Monday night temps. There will be scattered frost over the area. I ought to protect some of my plants.

wiseacre said...

My average date of last frost is the 15th too. I haven't checked to see how cold it got last night but now at 10 AM it's warmed up to 40F. Ground temp still has a ways to go before it hits 50F for planting things like corn.

I'm looking at 27F for tonight :(

jezibels said...

Im putting my tomatoes in today, damn the frost! I got to get it done they are potbound.

Stacy said...

Thanks Heather and Daphne. Last night was fine, just a bit of a dusting and no damage. One more night to go!

Wiseacre, good luck. 27 degrees is definitely in the damage zone.

Cover them up Jez, there are no clouds out there tonight. That means cold.

Northern Shade said...

You plants look cozy, all tucked in bed for the night. I hope they stay safe until all the frost has gone.

We had this funny white stuff coming down today, and more predicted for tonight. I'm hoping that the new perennial sprouts all tough it out. There are too many favourites in the ground to cover them all.

Stacy said...

Oh no Northern Shade, that's not right! I hope it's stay is brief and your plants do OK too.