Our average last frost date is May 7th. The safe date, the day it is considered safe to plant tender plants like tomatoes, is May 15th. When you have a frost after the 15th, like we did May 18th, it is commonly a record low for the date, as this one was. We had another frost this morning though I don’t know if it was a record, it didn’t drop below the freezing point like it did yesterday.

I figured most of the berries I planted out would be frost hardy but at dusk the 17th I had second thoughts and decided I would prefer to remain ignorant as to whether they were or not.  I scrambled around and ended up covering them all. The blackberries are  low to the ground and mulched with hay so I simply pulled some over the top. The lingonberries are mulched with pine needles so I used floating row cover on them.

Smaller berries I used planting pots, medium ones 5 gallon buckets, and taller ones garbage barrels. The finished product:

berries covered for frost

I had planted out some tomatoes about ten days ago and already covered most of them with milk jugs with the bottoms cut out so all I had to do was put the caps on that I leave off during the day so they don’t overheat. Since I put the tomatoes on black plastic to help heat the ground, I couldn’t completely seal the bottoms with dirt but it wouldn’t have been a issue I was concerned about but with the frost I put rags around the bottoms just in case.

tomatoes with hot caps

We don’t buy liquids in gallon jugs usually so I only had a couple on hand, but did get some at the Festival of Inspiration. I was driving behind the temple the last night and saw some young ladies with a stockpile of soda and water jugs  so I asked  if I could have them. They wanted to know if I was going to recycle but when I told them I was going to use them for hot caps they were okay with that.

I am not completely sure but I think they were the young ladies from Athens, Ohio who had an accident on the way home and one of them left her body. Read about that here.

I was still short a few but Manjari had given me some when we stopped at her home on the way back from the grafting seminar so I did have them all capped.

The rest of the tomatoes were still in pots waiting to be transplanted as were peppers, various flowers,  castor beans,  bitter melon and some other stuff. We carried those inside or covered them with blankets.

Peas, Chinese cabbage, beets, spinach and radishes were all good without covering but I was concerned with some potatoes I had let  sprout in the greenhouse early that were well out of the ground so I covered them with floating row cover, deliberately leaving one out to see how tough they were. While frost resistant, this was actually a hard frost. Note how the uncovered one got a little damaged.

frosted potato

It will recover but be behind the others.

It frosted again this morning. Last night everything was in place so covering wasn’t the chore it had been the night before.

frosted cloche

This  office water cooler bottle served its purpose well, you can see the white stuff, that is frost.  Manjari had left 3 of them here when she came for the FOI to make room for stuff she was back hauling.

To get the bottoms off them was a trip. First I tried a razor knife and that was ineffective, then a hack saw which worked too slowly with night falling.  I tried one of Vidya’s jigsaws and dulled a blade before I finished the first one. I finally dragged out the 12 amp reciprocating saw with a metal blade and had Tulasi hold them still.

With these, I am already starting some tomatoes in  February next year and planting out under them in April in my mind.  Goal: fresh tomatoes in June.