Clark Hollow Ramblings: A late, menu-altering frost 

It’s been a couple of weeks since the heavy frost here at my house. Our raised-bed garden took a major hit. We had green beans popping up and some limas, but the frost showed no mercy on any bean that had its head above the ground. It was a hard frost for us. Our garden lies in a bit of a depression, and, as my dad used to say, you could have tracked a rabbit in the garden. 

I had to replant both the green beans and the limas. The biggest mistake we made was in not providing enough protection for our tomatoes. We had 18 large tomato plants, and the buds were already showing yellow color. 

I had gone ahead and put the wire cages up around them, so it was not easy to get to them to put something over them. We took some old blankets and draped them over the cages, but they didn’t come down the sides very far. As nothing is so bad that it can’t serve as a bad example, the lesson for next year is that frost does not fall from the sky like rain. 

I went out to the garden a bit after daylight the next morning, but before the sun was shining on it. It looked, at that point, like our efforts may have paid off. The plants didn’t look too bad. I went back in the house, had my breakfast and paid a few bills and revisited the garden a couple of hours later; it was a disaster. 

The tops of the tomato plants, and especially the stems with the blooms on them where the tomato forms, were all black. After a day or two, it was apparent the plants were not dead. I took the hand shears that Linda uses on the roses and trimmed the plants of the blackened stems and leaves. They are going to make it, and have put out a fair amount of new growth, but I am not sure how productive they are going to be.

Almost as bad, our cherry trees and the apple tree are now almost devoid of any developing fruit. I am going to miss the cherry pies and cobblers almost as much as the early tomatoes. My brother told me I should have taken the water hose and watered the tomatoes heavily when I saw them at daybreak, before the sun hit them. He said he was able to save his by doing that. Hopefully, I’ll know better next time. 

It was a spotty frost. I have some potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn at my brother-in-law’s house about a mile away. The frost should have taken them all out. His garden didn’t get any frost. Not a bit. My son, who lives up on the side of the mountain, also didn’t get any frost, and said the temperature didn’t get below 42 degrees at his house. It got down to 28 here. 

Looking on the positive side, we have been enjoying wonderful salads, and the beets are now big enough to eat. They are so good they have just about taken my mind off the tomatoes. And the peas are blooming. I can’t wait to take a handful of the flat pods and put them in the salads. Who needs tomatoes, anyway? Oh, wait, I do. 

Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 134 Articles

Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.