From mid August to late October, as readers all know, is the late summer and early fall, but to gardeners it means early frosts and hurricane season.
Frost. This week there were early warnings of possible frost. This, as I have mentioned before, is not a time to panic and harvest tender crops before they are mature, but take precautionary measures.
In the past 50 years, I have noticed that if you can get past the first frost, it may be several weeks before the next one, so take precautions, and enjoy the continued growing of your plants.
Frosts usually occur after a cold front has passed and we have an area of high pressure over the area and the sky becomes cloudless, which permits the heat to radiate into the atmosphere and the wind drops to nil. Gardeners should watch the weather for local signals, as well as listen to the weather forecasts for the general area, as often they vary. You can go to bed with clouds and wind and wake up with a frost.
Precautions. Modern methods include covering the rows with plastic or burlap, but remember to anchor it down with weights such as stones, wood or metal. In some cases, your early season plastic tunnels will do the trick. For small areas, sacking or garbage bags may be usable, depending on the size of the plants. I have often, for some low plants, used newspaper pages with success. Often it is a question of leaving some tall plants uncovered and take a chance on any damage.
After the frost. An old method for treatment after the frost is to get up early in the morning, just as the temperature is rising and preferably before the sun hits the plants. With the garden hose — or, for small areas, the watering can — spray water over all the plants and wash the frost off the flowers, fruit and foliage.
I have used these methods all my life, in various parts of England and in St. John’s, and always ended up with fine crops afterwards. Repeat, if there are further frosts.
Occasionally, a hurricane hits the province, but mostly they pass just to the south or nearby. In all cases, they bring very strong winds and heavy rain.
Precautions. With tall plants, such as runner beans, tall peas and dahlias, you probably already have them secured to stakes or nets; recheck to ensure they are still secure. Add additional ties or stakes as necessary.
After the storm, recheck again and put listing plants upright again and re-secure. Remove broken limbs.
These have put on a fine display of yellow or golden flowers.
Cut back with garden shears or loppers to within one or two inches (2.5-5.0 cm) of where the new growth started. This will help to make them sturdy. Broom does not like being cut back into the old wood.
Jobs for the week
Continue removing dead flowers from annuals. Chrysanths in the garden, when in bud, can be fed with a weekly high potash diluted fertilizer such as tomato fertilizer 6-12-12.
J.J. Strong is a longtime member
of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society.