The Richmond Register

October 22, 2013

Preparing for Frost

By Amanda Sears
Extension Agent

RICHMOND — The average frost date for our area is October 10, which means the growing season has been over a week longer than normal! However, there have been reported cases of isolated frost in the area over the last few days. If you are not quite ready to give up on your gardens yet, check out the tips below to extend your season just a bit more.

Harvest early

A crop like tomatoes is very sensitive to frost. If you have no way to protect plants, you may want to harvest all fruit that are in the mature green stage of ripening. Fruit harvested at this stage will still ripen, albeit not with the same flavor as fruit harvested with some color. Place fruit in a single layer in a warm, dark location with some air movement. Tomatoes and other fruit do not need light to ripen. In fact, light will slow ripening. Store where the temperature does not go below 55 degrees F. Lower temperatures will cause the fruit to be poorly flavored.

 Irrigate before the frost

A moist soil can hold four times more heat than a dry soil. It will also conduct heat to the soil surface faster than a dry soil, aiding in frost prevention. In a study performed years ago, the air temperature above a wet soil was 5 degrees F higher than that above a dry soil and the difference was maintained until 6 a.m. the next morning. Thus, plants should be well watered the evening before a frost.

Cover your plants

Covering plants can give you 2 to 5 degrees F protection. The covers can be laid right over the plant, or can be supported on stakes. The difference being that protection is less wherever the cover touches the plant. Any material can be used to cover the plants; however woven fabrics are better insulators then plastics or paper. The best time to apply covers is in the late afternoon after the wind has died down. Remove covers the next morning before the sun hits them.

Get Your Farm City Banquet Tickets Soon!

Don’t forget to pick up your Farm City Banquet tickets. The event is Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Madison County Extension Office, any Farm Bureau Office in the County, both Chambers of Commerce, and the NRCS Office. Tickets will not be sold at the door and ticket sales end on Wednesday, Oct. 30.  This year’s speaker is Dr. Tammy Horn who will be speaking on the importance of bees to agriculture. Hope to see you there! It should be the bee’s knees!