Death & Taxes – Let’s Add Frost to that List

October 29, 2007

I can’t imagine why Ben Franklin left that one off his list in the first place. After all, any gardener will tell you that frost is just as certain as the other two, at least it is if you garden anywhere close to my Zone 6 growing region.

Sure, I heard the freeze warnings that were broadcast over the weekend, but who pays much attention to the forecaster’s predictions these days? Besides the leafy greens and fall vegetables that occupy most of the garden have been anxiously awaiting a satisfying frost to stimulate and sweeten their cold hardy leaves for weeks as it stands.

Who’s Afraid of an Itty Bitty Frost

In fact, the only plants left in the garden that would even flinch at a wimpy little frost are a few pepper plants that have been on notice for a while that they were living on borrowed time. So it wasn’t much of a shock or disappointment when I looked out the window this morning to discover a thick, white coating of frost covering the lawn and greenery.

If you live in a tropical climate without frost, count your blessings, but then again you’ll probably never harvest a tree ripened apple, peach, or other fruit that requires a winter slumber. Or even discover the appetizing difference that frosty weather can make in enhancing the flavor of greens, root crops, and even garlic as they are transformed by the exhilarating experience of exposure to cold temps.

Let the Frost Fall Where it May

On many levels the sting of fall frost, like the approach of winter is just part of a Master plan rather than a crisis out in the vegetable garden. At least we were already blessed with a few weeks of warmer than normal growing conditions to extend the harvest of those frost tender summer crops. And according to my records, this season’s first frost occurred exactly one week later than last year’s chilling and sobering event.

So while it does mark a somewhat gloomy milestone in the life of the garden, fall frost isn’t traumatic, it’s just another certainty, like death and taxes. On the other hand, an unexpected late spring frost striking after you’ve transplanted your prized heirloom tomatoes out into the garden in June… now that’s an entirely different story!

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