The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Last frost of spring 2013 (I hope)

Row covers

IrisWhen I planted our first set of tender vegetables at the end of April, the long-term forecast looked frost-free.  But a freeze slipped up on us, so Sunday afternoon I rushed around and put row covers over the strawberries and seedling corn, beans, and squash.

The last frost in our neck of the woods is awfully likely to wipe out young fruits on apples and peaches, but I've figured there's not much you can do there except hope.  Luckily, these fruits usually don't get damaged until at least 28 degrees, and our (hopefully) last freeze of the year clocked in at a mere 32 degrees, leaving patchy frost on the ground but no nippage higher up.  I'm especially pleased to see that our hardy kiwi wasn't harmed this year --- the leaves have been nipped every spring to date, and we've seen no fruits as a result, so I'm hopeful 2013 will be the year the vines have enough vigor to bloom.

Basswood flower buds

Meanwhile, concern about the frost prompted me to test a hypothesis I have --- that the reason basswood trees bloom erratically is simply because the flowers get frost-nipped most springs just like many fruit trees do.  Sure enough, the bloom buds are already in place on the basswood tree, but since our recent freeze was so light, my hypothesis will have to wait until another year for a test.  That's just as well since non-nipped basswood flowers will make this the first year since 2010 that our farm will be enjoying this top-notch June nectar flow.

Technically, we'll be frost-free as of tomorrow, but I can use any weather magic you all have on hand to ensure that will be the case.  The blackberries aren't even blooming and we usually enjoy a blackberry winter....

Our chicken waterer keeps hens happy with clean water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We got hit with freezing temps and frost last night too, here in eastern PA. The last? We'll see. My mints (monarda, lemon balm, catnip, blue stem) didn't look so good this morning, with 'burnt' tips and drooping leaves, but they should be hardy enough to come back. The potatoes got nipped too, so it was a good thing they were up only 2-3 inches. I just got my pepper and tomato plants this weekend, but had them inside Monday night and last night. I think the onions, garlic, peas, and lettuces liked the frost--they looked better than ever this morning (practically florescent).
Comment by Stephanie Tue May 14 09:39:21 2013

Here's warm weather wishes for no more frost! I cant get a reliable ten day forecast since we are sort of in nowheresville and our high elevation makes us lots colder than the surrounding areas, but the 7 day forecast has us frost free, so I planted the tomatoes and peppers under the hoops and am keeping my fingers crossed.

I vented the hoop house today and noticed it is full of small gnats/ flies. Anybody have this problem? Are these whiteflies? Any way to get rid of them? Where the heck did they come from?

Anna, I found seeds for those tangerine peppers, and they are growing in my little greenhouse shelves. Might be a bit late, but am excited to try them. Had to get them from a seed house in Canada, and all the labels and directions are in French!

Comment by Deb Wed May 15 00:56:55 2013
Can anyone give me some advice? My potato plants were about 2-4 inches high before Monday night's frost, and I neglected to cover them--never again. Those tops are mostly black, now. I realize (hope) that they will probably send up new shoots, so all hope is not lost, but would it be helpful to trim off the now-dead growth? Or, should I just leave them alone? Thanks, Steph
Comment by Stephanie Wed May 15 09:16:08 2013

Stephanie --- I generally just leave potatoes alone when that happens. They definitely have the stored energy to grow again, and it doesn't really seem to set them back much.

Deb --- Sorry to hear you've got insect trouble! I usually take off the top and let wild insects in when that happens --- soon, the bad bugs are wiped out. The great thing is that you don't even have to figure out what the problem insects are using this method.

Comment by anna Wed May 15 18:16:22 2013
I'll follow your and my Dad's advice, and not snip off those tops. They'll grow back!
Comment by Stephanie Thu May 16 08:44:03 2013

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