The weather here in Atlanta has had us on our toes the past couple of weeks. One day it is 80 degrees, the next, we are layered up and it’s somewhere in the 50’s. Now we are are seeing days where it’s 70 and sunny. Our former northern selves don’t know what to make of weather like this, but we love it. This is not because we hate the cold northern ways but because it allows us to keep the crops rolling on. If we weren’t growing so much food outside, this warm weather might actually have me depressed.
Alas, a freeze is inevitable and well on its way. Thanks to our good friend, Ryan (the same one who brought us our starter scoby) dropping a frost cloth off while he was in town last, we are better equipped to protect our beds. He gives us scoby and frost cloths, we give him woodchips and stuff from the garden like pickled green tomatoes. It’s a beautiful thing.
To prepare for our first frost we had to clean house a bit, and that meant clearing out the fading tomatoes and tomatillos that weren’t quite ready to call it a season. I felt terrible cutting them down.
But in order to get the frost cloths over the raised beds and protect everything growing beneath the towering plants, they had to go. Before cutting the tomato vines, I picked all the green tomatoes and brought them in to ripen.
To get the tomato plants out of the bed and untangled from the trellis, I cut the vines with garden clippers until I was able to wiggle the plant and roots free without getting caught up in the twine.
Then I was able to take the trellis down with no hassle. Well for the most part. I’m a little on the short side to be able to reach all the way around the raised bed and cold frames.
For the tomatillos, I pretty much did the exact same thing. I picked what was ready and took the vines down little by little until I could wiggle the plant free without getting caught up in the trellis. Then I removed the trellis. All that was pulled from the bed went straight to the compost. Had there been any signs of disease, we would have to trash it.
Since the cover crops have been getting more sun, we have seen significant growth. Particularly with the catnip.
Who knows what the future holds, but we are going to keep doing what we can to stretch the season. Starting with the frost cloth (thanks, Ryan!).
Every night that we have a frost potential, we cover the the beds wattle fence to wattle fence, and every morning it gets taken off so everybody gets their time to shine. The wattle fence actually works overtime keeping the cloth supported off of the kale. In the raised beds, we have bamboo poles in the corners to keep it off the herbs, carrots, and other tall plants.
Now realistically, the frost cloth alone is not enough to get these guys through the toughest parts of winter. We are taking it up a notch in the coming days using the extra windows we scored from our insurance agent’s office renovation to make something really cool. You’ll have to come back and check it out.
Psst – curious how the backyard is handling? We haven’t covered anyone, but the peppers (banana and bell), okra, and sugar snap peas are all holding their own.