Protecting Vegetable Plants From Frost
We just planted our raised bed vegetable gardens last weekend and tonight there is a chance of a serious frost! I should have known better than to plant our garden before Memorial Day. Here in northern New England it’s never wise to plant your garden before Memorial Day for fear that a hard frost will set it in and burn the plants and ultimately kill them.
Tonight’s forecast is for 28° F which is certainly cold enough for a very deep frost. This is bad news for our tomato and pepper plants that we planted last weekend. After growing up with large vegetable gardens as a kid I know just how to beat this cold blast from Mother Nature.
Cover Vegetable Plants With Plastic
In order to protect your new vegetable plants from the dangers of frost you need to understand how frost works. Frost typically forms on cold clear calm nights. It almost always happens in open areas without cover from trees and structures.
There are several ways of protecting your plants from frost. Some folks like to spray plants with water in the evening before a frost. The theory is the water will freeze on the leaves instead of freezing the cell structure (not sure I’m comfortable with this approach). Probably the most popular method is covering the plants. You can cover the plants with plastic or cloth materials like sheets and burlap. Some say that if you use plastic you may trap too much moisture in the enclosure thus risking even worse frost damage (I’ve never had this problem).
I like to create a tent with the plastic. I installed some wood stakes around our new raised bed gardens to keep the plastic from touching the plants directly. I made sure the enclosure was not completely closed off so plenty of air can move through the “structure”. This method helps keep some of the warmth in from the soil and it keeps the really cold air from forming ice particles on top of the tender new plants. With any luck our plants will now survive the cold night.
How do you protect your plants from frost?