It had to happen but its early.. three weeks early.. Oct 5th.. the first hard killing frost arrived on the farm.. even the things we covered which would have made it though a light frost with the covered, had been hit hard under their sheets and row covers..
This was not the first light frost of the fall garden season.. this was the killing frost of late oct.. and it did its job well..
Saturday very hard frost meant that the bugs took a huge hit as well, but it did warm up to 17 and while it had a cool morning, it was clear/sunny and a perfect work in the garden day..
I would like to tell you that I did a good amount of garden work but I did not, I directed and Jason worked non-stop. By early afternoon, I caved an crawled into bed for a rest while he kept on working.
We knew this frost was coming and so the night before, the last of everything was picked and brought in.. I buckets, crates and massive bowls all over the stairs, on cupboards, on the floor and covering my dining room table and more..
The beets where pulled up and are looking great, a massive tote of them are waiting for me to process into jars, some will be roasted and then pickled, others will be cooked, peeled and sliced for plain canning and a limited amount will be cooked, peeled and grated for winter beet soup.
The garden clean up has started, everything that could be pulled up and feed to the pasture herd’s or the flocks was done and those that can not where added to the compost piles.
So spring started late with hard frosts happening until mid-May.. anyone who put out “early” in spring of 2019 got caught by hard frosts and had to re-start and or replant or rebuy..
Our last spring frost was a full two weeks later then average and a full three weeks from “the norm” on the farm over 15 years of tracking.
I did not plant out my “heat” until the first week of june.. they had all been green house started and I continued to buy and plant out bigger starts for the next three weeks as the kitchen garden was built.
I planted things by seed in june and into the first part of july.. I was able to do a few rows into the later part of july even with the heat and drought in place as I watered those rows only twice daily and they all did very well with this..
I did not do any of my late fall planting, I listened to the tree’s and the plants that all said, fall is coming early.. prepare.. prepare.. plus I listened to my land that went.. drought and dry..
The second point is that the drought started close to the time of the heat.. but the rains did not come at the normal time.. they normally start in the first week of aug, second week and then we have the second heavy push of growth that allows me to extend long into fall..
This year.. the rain did not come until the last week of aug.. and did not really start till sept to be honest.. This put the rains a full three weeks late from the norm..
Are you doing the math?
Spring cold and slow- four weeks late to plant
Late summer rains- Three weeks late to arrive
Killing Frost- Three weeks early!
My garden season was shortened this year by 7 weeks.. I lost a min of 49 growing days this year! and that my friends is a massive difference in grow days!
I got around this by ordering in green house started plants for a number of my hots so they got the days they needed and yields were excellent. I planned and planted heavy calorie crops, lots of roots and so many beans this year..
I wanted and got a put up year.. and while I am keeping back some seed on a few things, that was the second thing I gave up, I am really glad I didn’t grow or use some of my favorite seeds this year as I might not have gotten then to finish and would have lost the seed return this year.
Thankfully I had made the choice with everything going on that I would have a focus on heavy production with everything fully picked and no focus on seed saving this year.
I either bought seed or only used seed that I had a couple years put up of it from my seed stores.
Considering we started making these gardens in may and we are still making gardens now, I am beyond grateful for the yields and returns that where gotten from these new gardens..
I am pleased.. truly pleased with what the garden yielded.. yes I had some area’s that need work, yes I had struggles, yes I could have planted other garden area’s but I was tightly focused this year on what could be done and what could not be..
We have reaped the rewards of the focus and will continue to do so though the winter and well into next year.. jar after jar of produce has been put up, freezer after freezer is being filled.. and as planned, we will be heading into winter lean critter wise, which will reduce costs and give us more time/money to work on other projects.
I know that I got much bigger yields this year then many other people locally did.. as I have watch hundreds report their losses.. I did have losses as well.. the corn did not produce anything and was used as animal fodder.. the squash was very poor this year..
My big gardens are full of plants.. most of which I do not want and that will need to be pulled out and burned at a later point in the fall if time allows it..
Time slips by, faster and faster!
As all gardener’s know.. next year is a new year!
Oh man, losing 49 days of your growing season is tough. Honestly, if that happened to me that would mean losing half of my growing season. Our first frost was about three weeks late this year. However, our spring was also very late, so in the end, we have a normal length growing season. Glad to hear that despite the loss in growing days, you were still able to produce plenty from your garden.
Its been down right brutal for the farmers around me in regards to their own crops as well.. quality is effected and in some case outright loss.. Thankfully, I was raised in alberta which means that my 49 day shorter is pretty much what I was raised with and so I was able to adjust things with the knowledge I had on how to work a shorter season..
Point in fact, it was amazing to me when I moved here and suddenly had all this extra growing season.. The other bonus this year was I was highly worried about drought and so I picked a lot of very short season types of seed as I want them to be able to produce before the heat really hit as I was worried we had a shorter season.. but I was not expecting this!
That’s crazy. 49 days. I’ve lived in a few places that averaged less than 100 frost free days and that would be over half the season!
True.. Thankfully, I normally have a pretty good long growing season.. but this year I pretty much had a alberta year lol.. Don’t even think about planting that till the may long weekend and everything done and up by the end of sept.. It long enough if you are planting the right thing.. but its also limiting on what you can grow and what can finish producing.. that is a big thing.. so many people could not get things to finish growing this year..
Though short you knew how to make the most of it and that’s something that newbies are looking for. You are to be praised for keeping everyone in the know on gardening. I work hard each year to make sure my grown children and my non-farm friends know how to fend for themselves. It’s a lost art that’s coming back and I think just in time!!
Yes, I agree, its a very good thing that I have knowledge on how to garden in a much shorter season and that I hedge my bets this year and selected seeds carefully to handle shorter growing season, lots of roots and I agree.. knowing how to grow, harvest process and put your own food is a huge skill set and very needed..
Good on you for managing to get the crops brought in before the frost hit. Have you decided to try planting something different next year, or try any new sorts of anything?
Hi Silver, I am so glad that hubby was home and able to put those hours in, I think I would have called in outside help to come if he had not, I know I could not have done it but I also could not have allowed that much food to go to waste.. it would have broken my heart to lose 100’s of pounds of food. I will adjust things a bit next year.. I will have to hunt down some extreme short season seeds.. they are available for other area’s of garden season in Canada but are not locally available, so I will have to order them in from the west seed houses. I will work on a few other idea’s that might appear next spring! I will keep everyone updated on the changes I make.
Hard frost in the forecast for this week. My geraniums and marigolds will be gone by the time we get home, and the one volunteer tomato plant I was nursing will be toast, but since I didn’t garden much this year I won’t lose a lot of work. I’ve always been lucky to leave my beets and carrots in the ground to harvest as needed during the winter. – Margy
I am glad you will not be losing a lot and good for you on being able to keep the roots in the ground.