A hard freeze

My worst nightmare or perhaps, the biggest test on the garden, has been happening over the past week in Sonoma. We are not immune to freezes here but the one that we are enduring now is the hardest I’ve seen since we took over the garden in 2011. It’s even close to freezing in San Francisco, which is almost unheard of. We’ve been enduring lows of 19 degrees overnight in Sonoma with thankfully, enough of a warm up during the day to not completely kill off the plants. But it’s worrisome enough.

peas, english peas, freeze, frost, december, 2013, winter, cold,
My pretty little pea seedlings covered in ice.

Thanksgiving week it was 75 degrees and beautiful. I knew the first frost was well overdue but I didn’t expect it to be so harsh and for so long! I rushed up during the week to cover the beds and other fragile plants with frost blankets but quickly realized I would need more than what I had on hand already. I managed to find the last blanket in town on Friday after some lovely person was kind enough to return what they didn’t need. Thank you to them and the lovely person at Friendman’s who tracked it down for me!

Frost blankets cover the raised beds.
Frost blankets cover the raised beds.

I think most of the raised bed plants will survive but I’m skeptical about the carrot seedlngs and my english peas. They have taken a beating for sure. I went into the fall planting knowing I had a late start but also knowing I mostly planted packets of seeds that cost 2.00, so there’s not much to lose. We all learn from our mistakes, and this would certainly be a cheap one to make.

A little extra warmth with some straw.
A little extra warmth with some straw.

I added a little extra insulation with some straw I keep on hand plus a good watering just before. I had no idea how important it is to water your plants before a frost. It sounds counterintuitive but it works. The less stress they have to endure the better.

Lettuces take a beating with no more blankets left over to cover them.
Lettuces take a beating with no more blankets left over to cover them.

I let the lettuces take the brunt of the frost. I didn’t have the time nor the extra blankets to cover them. It will be an experiment if they survive. These are romaine lettuces which seem to be a bit hardier than most. Perhaps I’ll make a salad with them tonight since I suspect they’ll be dead by next week. Fingers crossed some of the perennials survive. The kangaroo paw isn’t looking it’s loveliest but I also know they can be cut down to the ground every year and manage to come back.  And I’m most worried about the pricey black mondo grass I planted in our front yard. They look fine for now.

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