BUSY WEEK WE ALL HAD!!! Stressful? Yup. Many of us had our gardens in, including me (minus a few plants that can’t handle the cold at all). Literally 3 days after I got most everything in, the weather turned, and we got the coldest weather we have had since the 70’s!
A major cold pressure system from the Hudson’s Bay brought in cold North winds, SNOW, ice, and of course the dreaded frost. How to defend against frost? Well, I had every frost blanket I owned in use. However, those were tricky in the high winds. It took 50 small bricks to hold down one blanket on the deck gardens. So, had to think creatively. We had piles of chicken feed bags around, and I grabbed some from Wolf River Farm. My garden helper and I put bags on each tomato plant (cage still on) and cloths-pinned the bag so that the wind wouldn’t use the bag to beat up the plants. We used bags for a few other taller veggies as well.
The corn was brutal to cover, but we used wire hoops and created a dome over the rows with frost blankets. We used buckets of water for weight AND FOR HEAT. You would be surprised how long warm water will keep things warm under a tarp or blankets.
Due to the wind, we also used large planter pots to cover plants. They were able to breathe, but kept warm enough and the frost was unable to touch the plants.
4 days later……
I really thought this year I was going to lose parts of my gardens. It is expected to loose things at times. We had two nights in a row of -2 degrees Celsius and 2 days of less than 10 degrees. Even covered, that is a ton of stress on plants, especially young VERY freshly transplanted plants. It’s a really good thing I’m super diligent with hardening off for a long time or I’m sure I would have lost plants.
Anyway, my helper came over, we cleaned up all the pots, blankets and such, and too my complete surprise not a thing died! The only covered crop that was struggling were the tomatoes in the garden by my house. The tomatoes in the other far garden were (and are) completely fine. Oh, and the pole beans at the far garden are not at all happy, but the beans in the garden by my house are… go figure..
I was not able to cover my potatoes, or cold loving veggies (Broccoli , cabbage, kale…) so I took a chance. The frost did nip the tops of some of the potatoes, but they are doing fine. The asparagus was shielded by the rhubarb, so it was fine, however the rhubarb has some extremely fried leaves. Lucky you can just cut it back and let it grow again. OH!!! Don’t eat rhubarb that has frost damage. It is mildly toxic!
Bringing back your sad plants
Ok, so many of my crops were sad looking. My tomatoes especially. My potatoes and rhubarb will be fine. Tomatoes though need special love and attention from me this year. My gardens become my babies. I love them. Each plant is a living, breathing creature. The sad thing is it can’t move around to get it’s needs met when it has a set back, and they depend on us. I really feel and believe that giving love and attention helps plants. Plants react to kindness, talking, singing, music and friendly actions. My new garden friend, Josh Szura, and I have had many conversations on how we see our various plants react to kindness, love and just the respect of being treated like one of the worlds amazing creations. Josh has an amazing background with botanical gardening and has recently immersed himself in vegetable gardens. He (like myself) has been eating from the garden for a couple weeks now. (If you have time, you should check out his youtube channel and Facebook site to see what he is up to.. really cool guy!
In addition to giving it love, there are other things too. I continued to cover my plants for a couple more nights even though there would be no frost. Just to keep them that much warmer at night to help recover. Also, my tomato leaves were really damaged in spots, so, I gave them more nitrogen. Generally you do not want to give extra nitrogen to tomatoes as they get too leafy and don’t fruit as much, however, when your plants are loosing that deep green, and the leaves are turning yellow, brown and curling up, they need help. Nitrogen is the best boost. My friend (and co-gardener) Harriet told me to make a blood meal tea. SOUNDS MORBID!!! All you do is take a couple cups of blood meal, add it to a 5 gallon pail of water, let it sit until its the colour of tea, and then give your plants a drink. I’ve done this twice since the cold, and they are just starting to respond. It’s also a really good idea to take off any dead leaves so the plant doesn’t put energy into those parts.
Oh, and don’t water your plants with cold water, especially as they are recovering. If you have rain barrels or buckets, then please, fill those up and let the water warm up to the outside temp before watering. They will be much happier.
Pollinating your Squash
So, I let my 4 year old help me with the video for this one. This was his favourite thing to do last year. I had to reteach him this year. But, it is so easy that your young kids can do this 🙂 It’s best to watch the video, easier to see what I mean. Little disclaimer… I was trying to video my son doing this without a stand, and help him, plus it was so bright outside that I couldn’t really see the picture. It is only 2 minutes… so easy to get the idea. I promise to do better next time!
Why would you do this? Well, have you ever noticed that your zucchini starts off and then suddenly rots from the flower tip down? 90% of the time it is because it didn’t get fertilized. It also could be nutrient deficient, or too dry, but usually it is just not fertilized. You do this, and this will help if it is a fertilization issue. I do this
So, first you need to know which flowers are male and female. The males are on stems and the females have zucchini under them instead of a stem. This is the same for all squash varieties. You will see the little ball of squash under the flower head. You will pick the male flower, peel back the petals and expose the stamen. Open up the female flower (they are often closed during the day and opened in the early morning) and rub the male stamen around the female stamen. Done!
Alrighty! Happy Gardening you all!!!
P.s. If you have questions, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org