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Frost Protecting Your Garden


It's going to be cold tonight, and if we're not careful we are going to lose some of our vegetable crops. Especially the ones that are warm season crops, such as the tomatoes and peppers that you may have in the ground.

Probably the most practical way to do it is just mound some soil or dirt around it, or even grass clippings or leaves that you may have raked, just literally cover it up until you cannot see it any more.

Now, a lot of people have used concrete reinforcing wire with plastic around it, such as we have here. This plastic will give you a little frost protection, but not below 29 degrees. So if it's going to be colder than that, and we think it is, you might want to put a light bulb in there, some source of artificial heat.

Now you won't have to worry about covering the cold crops such as the broccoli, cauliflower, the onions, and things like that. A crop that you have seeded, such as beans and those types of things, just let them go because you still have time to plant some more and produce them.

What about the fruit crop? Anything below 29 degrees is going to take the fruit, and I think we're going to be colder than that tonight. What we have to do is just see how cold it's going to get, wait about 2 weeks and then cut some of these young fruit and see if this inside has turned brown or black. If it has, then that fruit will eventually fall off.

First thing, don't wash plants tomorrow morning with warm water. If you do, you will kill them even worse because the water is warm and you will be hitting a frozen plant. Another thing people are wondering about are young, succulent, fast growing shrubs. Don't worry about them. It might burn the tips back, but it's not going to kill the trees or the shrubs.

This has been Jerry Parsons Vegetable Specialist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service the Weekend Gardener.

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