Just Slightly Sad



This is my vegetable garden last Saturday, a week after my first frost, with the squash vines dead on the top, though still going strong underneath.  Christopher C. of the blog Outside Clyde, newly transplanted from Hawaii to North Carolina, wanted to know what to expect of this strange stuff called "frost." 

The vegetable garden doesn’t go off a cliff after the first 32-degree night, but it takes a series of steps down into winter.  I lost a lot of basil with my first frost.  The beans and green peppers are probably next, so I harvested as much of both last weekend as I could.  The very last thing to go in my garden are the Brussels sprouts–I’ve harvested those on Christmas day, even in Zone 4 in upstate New York.  And the consolation is, a lot of brassicas actually taste better after a few frosts.


  1. Brussels sprouts taste better after a bit of frost as well. The frost makes them taste sweeter. If they haven’t had any frost before harvesting, I put them in the deepfreezer for half an hour or so.

    In the Netherlands no frost as yet but it will come, sooner or later. Hopefully later. 🙂

  2. Usually the words to look out for are “hard freeze” — everything turns black overnight and the garden looks like a bomb blast.

    Frost is when water vapor in the air freezes on surfaces and things close to the ground or buildings (which retain heat) may not be affected, like the lower parts of Michele’s squash vines. Some annuals like nasturtiums can stand a touch of frost.

    I was under the impression that Kathy Purdy had definitions of the types of frost at her site, but I just looked and couldn’t find them.

    It feels weird to be having this discussion, since right now it’s 85 degrees in Portland and supposed to hit near 90 tomorrow.

  3. Oh, Portland, ME! Thank God. I’m going to Portland, OR for a marathon next week and nearly had a stroke thinking it might be that hot there!

    Um, sorry. Off topic there, but being in Houston, it’s the heat that murders our gardens. I had no idea there were degrees of frost/freezing. It’s either wrap the lime tree or don’t wrap the lime tree. 🙂

  4. That was very instructive. Thankyou. So there can be degrees of frost damage and disintegration of the garden. It may even be possible, minimal, the days still get shorter, in the warming climate to get a second wind from your garden.

    I was walking in the woods yesterday and saw what I thought might be frost damage on some Jewel Weed, Impatiens capensis. Or it could be from the drought.

    I loathe Brussels Sprouts.

  5. Frost is so beautiful and although it wreaks havoc plants can fight back. I learnt that lettuces cut while frosted and brought into the house instantly turned into a soggy mush. However left in the garden until the temperature went above freezing, they were fine.
    Somewhere I read that some plants have a sort of anti-freeze, but darned if I can find the reference.
    In my Saskatoon garden, there was an underground stream – that’s why my neighbour’s basement flooded in spring and mine didn’t. I got to know where it ran because it showed up as meandering line of rime in a light frost, the only part of the garden affected.
    The first hard frost was usually about September 13th. Tomatoes were left in the garden until the last moment, particularly as the days were hot even though the nights were chilly. Every day we listened carefully for frost warnings. Eventually one evening as the temperatures dropped and dropped, we would panic. Out into the dark garden, rip the coverings off the tomatoes, cut whole plants at the bottom of the stalk and carefully bear the precious harvest into the basement.

Comments are closed.