This is the first year I’ve ever experienced a frost in my veggie garden … at least one that has been so bad that it has made it into the section of my kitchen garden where I grow the bulk of our food and damaged the leaves of my precious seedlings and brassicas. I heavily mulch my gardens anyway and I’m sure this thick doona helped mitigate even worse damage but now I’ve realised more serious measures need to be taken if my babies are to survive.
I was seriously unimpressed with the damage so since it’s likely we may still get more frosts before the winter is over, I set about finding some easy no-cost systems for protecting my crops.
Anti-Frost Protection System 1: After just unloading about 20 bags of manure onto a new fenceline garden bed I’m making, I thought I’d improvise and use those empty bags to lie horizontally on top of my leafy greens up near the house to cover the veggies in my micro gardens. The lightweight bags are large (about 800mm – 1m long and about 500mm wide) so they make great ‘hats’ for any frost to settle on rather than the leaves. I checked this out this morning and it worked! No damage today at all.
Anti-Frost Protection System 2: I use a lot of polystyrene boxes to grow micro gardens in so with their built-in holes for drainage and great thermal insulation properties, I decided to up-end them and give them a go too. In my raised garden bed (which is built about 20cm above the ground but the most susceptible to frost), I’m growing lots of seedlings and semi-mature brassicas, onions, shallots and celery. After some were badly damaged from the first frost, I have inverted the poly boxes over the top to make a mini house to protect them. The insulating properties means the temperature is more regulated underneath and they too were protected from further damage after I checked again this morning.
Anti-Frost Protection System 3: The final method I used was to create make-shift ‘corrals’ around the plants that wouldn’t fit under the polyboxes, building up the height around them with some dead weeds and grass tussocks that had been cleaned out of the bed to create it, but hadn’t made it into the compost pile yet. I piled this improvised mulch thickly around the plants and sprinkled a little lightweight grass over the top of the leaves, giving them a ‘hat.’ Again … no casualties this morning! Yay!
This all took about 10 minutes and cost me nothing because I was reusing what I had at hand.
Lesson Learned: I also got to thinking that as gardeners … if everything was perfect and we never had any challenges to deal with, we would lose the opportunity to problem solve creatively! Frost? Bring it on!