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First Frost

October 28, 2011

Can you see the light, spotty frost on the blueberry field?

We had our first frost out here, at least sort of a first frost, on Wednesday morning. It was very, very light and spotty. It didn’t kill the beans, peppers or squash plants that were still growing, but I will still count it. I was actually hoping for a bit more, since I had gotten ready for this one. On Monday night, I cut down most of the hot pepper plants that were still out in the garden and took them in so I could dry the peppers. I didn’t get to the squash until Tuesday, when I brought all the ripe ones in. I was hoping we would get another frost on Thursday morning, but no luck. It was pretty cold, though.

Will the kale sweeten up a bit?

I still would like to see a few frosts soon, not only because I have the garden ready for it, but because I have always heard that crops get sweeter after a frost. I read in Steve Solomon’s book, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, that to survive winter weather, plants increase the sugar in their cells with frosts, to act as  a sort of anti-freeze. They also pump water out of their cells, when it gets close to freezing, so when they do freeze, they won’t burst their cell walls. So, yes, they do get sweeter, but they also can get drier and tougher. How much sweeter and how much tougher? I don’t know yet. Most years, we’ve eaten everything in the garden before a good frost comes, so I haven’t tasted the difference a frost makes. Maybe this year? It looks like next week there are some clear days with cool nights forecast: a chance for another frost.

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