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

Unveiling and assessing freeze damage

Strawberry frost damage

With the final hard freeze of the 10-day forecast in our rear-view mirror, I uncovered plants and assessed the damage. Bad news for early strawberries --- most of the blooms that were partially opened were nipped despite my double covering. Luckily, strawberries flower slowly over a few-week period, so the current loss just means we won't get ultra-early berries and that our overall crop will be a bit reduced. We'll have to assess whether Gallettas are worthwhile given that nippage once they fruit.

Heat-nipped apple blooms

Similarly, the future isn't looking good for our apple blooms...but there the fault is my own. The image on the left shows a twig I left covered with a dogfood bag for over a week. I'd hoped the plastic burlap would allow the twig to breathe, but it's obvious the covering instead captured the sun and caused overheating. In contrast, an uncovered flower cluster on the right looks much prettier...although I suspect the ovaries inside will be nipped and unable to make fruits due to the 21-degree night Saturday.

Cabbage and parsley

Young onion plantOn the plus side, our spring vegetables came through nearly or entirely unscathed.

I'd left transplants under row covers ever since setting them out a couple of weeks ago, so I got a very pleasant surprise when I removed the fabric and saw huge cabbage plants, nearly as big broccoli, impressive onions, and small but growing parsley.

I guess our indoor seed-starting revamp this spring is paying off, even if late freezes are continuing to make tree fruits a gamble.

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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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I've always wanted to ask you: do you have any troubles with chipmunks eating your strawberries? I thought when I put up my 8ft deer fence it would be impervious to all pests and I could finally raise strawberries, but the darned chipmunks took a bite out of every single berry, ripe or not. :( I also have squirrel issues, but they mostly uproot seedlings.

Comment by Julie Whitmore Tue Apr 12 09:06:19 2016
The damage doesn't look too bad to me? Then again, I'm used to a warmer climate :)
Comment by Joe Brown Tue Apr 12 09:59:44 2016

Julie --- We've only had a few chipmunk problems at the very edge of our garden because our dog and cats patrol regularly. Blue jays have been a more serious problem with individual birds sometimes going nuts over our berries! Short of investing in some rodent-hunting pets, I think you might get away with draping plastic netting over the plants to keep the chipmunks out. Good luck!

Joe --- Those blooms are just really sensitive to temperature. I've found in years past that flowers like that will open and look okay...then drop off a couple of weeks later. I assume the ovaries were damaged by cold and are just no longer viable.

Comment by anna Tue Apr 12 12:33:08 2016

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