Protecting plants from frost

by Pippa Greenwood

We had our first frost the other night. The next morning we were out at 6am, clearing the car windscreen.

Fleece protecting winter saladWe had our first frost the other night. The next morning we were out at 6am, clearing the car windscreen. The temperature rises during the day, but plummets mid-afternoon.

I wish I had popped the osteospermum that sits on my front door step into the greenhouse sooner. The leaves have become slightly downturned – a classic response to cold weather. However, the plant is probably salvageable.

Some plants, though, have hardly been affected at all. My small pepper plant is still sturdy and going strong, studded with little fruits. To help it along I covered it with the largest cloche I could find.

The strawberries, including the summer fruiters I mentioned in my last blog, are still producing fruit (unlike the raspberries). We harvest a cereal bowl full of sweet-yet-tangy strawberries every couple of days. Although they seem totally unaffected by the cold, I’ve protected some of them with a fleece-covered tunnel. Having seen the number of unripe strawberries, I simply couldn’t help myself.

The greenhouse tomatoes now feel icy to the touch when picked, but the plants are soldiering on. In previous years I have laid down my remaining outdoor tomato plants on a bed of straw, and covered them with a long cloche or a few layers of fleece. I like to ensure that the last few fruits reach the table. Unfortunately, this year my outdoor tomatoes have succumbed to blight.

There is something vaguely comforting about this time of year – it’s as if we’re ‘all in it together’. We can enjoy some bright warm days but we’re also starting to snuggle down for the winter. My veg plants benefit from the extra warmth provided by fleece and cloches. I like to keep out the cold by drinking twice as many cups of tea.

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Gardeners' World Web User 20/10/2011 at 08:03

Hi, I am a new gardener and not sure if it is to late to prune shrubs and over grown trees! The garden still has lots of green and two wks ago new buds on shrubs? Please help!

Gardeners' World Web User 20/10/2011 at 09:42

I have a cold greenhouse, but would like to grow veg over the winter, any suggestions on what I can grow ie Lettuce etc Cheers

Gardeners' World Web User 21/10/2011 at 07:44

Yes, I have been given some myrtle cuttings which I have put in rooting powder in a pot. Info says they need to be kept warm so I have brought them indoors for the winter.( I only have a plastic greenhouse) The leaves are still down even after being in my back bedroom on the floor do you think they will be ok or should I get rid of them? They were cut in August and given to me by a friend.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/10/2011 at 19:42

I have sweet william plants bought as plugs know doing well about 4inches can i plant them out? will they survive winter?

Gardeners' World Web User 23/10/2011 at 20:07

Yes. Sue/A, your Sweet William plants shpuld be fine if planted out now but don't delay. The soil is still warm. I have lots I grew from seed, a bit taller than yours and am hoping the rain we are promised for the West country tomorrow will make the job easier. They are hardy biennial - sow one year, flower the next, but lots of them will go on and act as short-lived perennials and it is easy to take cuttings from them when they are nice and bushy. I love them and let them seed in the garden.

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