Living off the Land: Managing your garden after a killing frost | Living off the land

Different parts of the Snake River Valley experienced a “damaging” but not killing frost a couple weeks ago. And if your garden was covered, then you probably have loads of green tomatoes, squash, and vegetables still ripening and growing.

Within the near future we will inevitably be having a killing frost, which will make most people’s gardens a thing of the past. After a killing frost you may be looking at the carnage in your garden and think that if we had just a couple more weeks, we could have gotten that produce ripened. (That’s always wishful thinking, but it never happens.)

For most people this was a slightly difficult growing season due to the intense heat we experienced during the summer and how much extra watering it took to keep plants growing, keep up with evaporation and not have them drought stressed. Also, many people started planting a garden for the first time this year as they now had time at home due to the coronavirus. This summer was one of the best “warm season-type plant” growing summers in recent years. Warm season plants such as watermelon, corn, beans, cantaloupe, peppers, tomatoes and squash performed very well this year. Each summer season is unpredictable, and even small changes such as a warmer than expected May, can have a dramatic effect on crop success.

Seasonal weather anomalies can create a higher than normal disease or insect problem, or conversely if the conditions are beneficial, the crop can be improved and have great quality.

But, back to the frost topic, what do we do in the aftermath of a killing frost? Well, if the produce was protected, and not yet ripe, such as a green tomato, and didn’t have any freeze damage, then it can be ripened inside the home and used for fresh eating. If it received any frost damage then, place it in the compost pile or trash. Immature winter squash or immature summer squash that has been damaged by a frost, will probably not get any larger though at this point in the season. If a squash’s vines were protected then, the fruit may continue to ripen, but if the plant’s leaves are frozen then fruit itself would probably be affected as well, and will rot and spoil.

Non-frost damaged immature squash fruit should be used shortly after a frost comes along even if it wasn’t frosted, as it will not hold up in storage, and will deteriorate. If it was frost damaged, then it should be tossed into the compost pile. Certain crops such as carrots, beets and parsnips can handle a frost, and although their tops will begin to die off, the beets underneath will be fine as long as the frost was not hard enough to damage them. Other crops such as Brussels sprouts can handle light frosts without issue and continue to grow and produce. From this point going forward, if you cover your garden, you are extending your growing season, but really only

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5 Mistakes To Avoid With Your Quarantine Garden Before the First Fall Frost

If you’ve successfully created a garden this summer, here’s what you’ll need to know to keep it thriving into the next season—and beyond.


A lot of us started new hobbies this year, and if yours involved planting the ultimate summer garden, you may just be wondering what to do with it now that fall is here. But don’t throw in the trowel just yet. While your summer schedule may have been packed with all things gardening, fall has its share of gardening delights, too—as well as tasks you’ll need to do to get that garden ready for spring.

Here are five common mistakes to avoid if you want to keep your new garden going strong.

Mistake No. 1: Not planting after Labor Day

Cold-season vegetables like broccoli and kale should be planted in fall.
Cold-season vegetables like broccoli and kale should be planted in fall.


Just because the summer flowers are fading doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a few more blooms before winter arrives. In fact, there are quite a few flowers (and even vegetables) that are known to thrive during the fall season.

Susan Brandt, president and founder of Blooming Secrets, shares a few of her fall favorites. For instance, aster is a daisylike flower that blooms in late summer through fall, when other summer flowers are fading, she says. Calendula, also known as pot marigold, can have bright orange or yellow flowers, which also have culinary and medicinal uses.

“The petals are edible and can even be used in salads,” she says.

In addition, Brandt lists marigolds, pansies, garlic, kale, and even radishes as top contenders for fall.

And don’t worry if these seeds aren’t planted yet—there’s still time.

“Gardeners can plant fast-growing vegetables for harvest before frost,” says Jenny Vazquez of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “Radishes, broccoli, turnips, and green beans are some great vegetables that will produce all the way up to the first frost.”

Mistake No. 2: Forgetting to water

The temperatures might be steadily dropping, but if your plants are still alive, then they still need water. Forgetting to water plants in the fall is a top mistake for new gardeners, but if you want to keep your garden healthy (and coming back next year), you’ll want to stick with your watering schedule right up until the first frost.

“Carefully watch the calendar and weather forecast for your area,” advises Richard Reina of “Continue watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes. Although they may seem like they’re dormant, they’re still alive.”

Mistake No. 3: Not harvesting your garden

Harvest late-summer herbs and hang them to dry.
Harvest late-summer herbs, and hang them to dry.


All those herbs and veggies you’ve worked so hard to grow aren’t going to pick themselves. Before your first frost arrives, be sure to check your garden and harvest any last herbs and veggies, or any seeds you’d like to save. Herbs should be hung inside to dry, and

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