[AG] Vegetable Garden: Frost Recovery

Linda A. Guy laguy2@primenet.com
Wed, 29 Dec 1999 08:56:05 -0700

Hi Jim,

Most vegetable varieties (leaf, root and flower crops) that are in our gardens now will usually dally in a state of dormancy if the weather gets really cold. (This
of course doesn't seem to currently be the situation in this unseasonably warm winter.) It is a natural state that should not be tampered with much: it is nature's
way of winterizing plants to withstand the cold. Actively growing foliage is the most susceptible to freeze injury, so you don't really want to stimulate anything
that is frost-tender. Proper irrigation is essential, because thirsty plants are more susceptible to frost damage as well.

If you have concern about damage, the time to act is when the frost warning is issued. Applying heat after the fact, especially from a heater, will really confuse
the plant, probably shock it and perhaps kill it. (Light bulbs are sometimes recommended but this is usually used for very frost sensitive plants like citrus
trees.) Irrigating after a frost may be too late if the plant was already dry.

Covering your crops with row cover when frost threatens is best. Remove it during the day or you will make your plants too weakened and dependent on the warmth.
Make sure the covering doesn't touch the plants, as frost damage can arise at the point of contact. (Again, I'm speaking of cool season vegetables; if you have a
wall'o'water around a tomato plant that is normally a warm season crop, this frost protection remains in place until spring)

If you incur frost damage, it is not usually pruned until warmer weather. You will only encourage new growth which will again be susceptible to frost. Plus the old,
damaged growth will act as a protective layer.

We have several good frost publications, one of which is available on line at

I hope this helps you.

Linda Guy
Master Gardener

jimsimpsoncpa@uswest.net wrote:

> arid_gardener
> After a light frost, what is the best method to rcover a vegetable garden?  E.G., water immediately to melt light frost, wait for the sun to warm, space heater?
> Thx, Jim
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