Last year I was totally unprepared for the severe frosts that we experienced here in Nanango. Actually we have our own frosty micro-climate down at Eight Acres, as our neighbours on top of the hill had no frost around their house! This year I was determined to be ready for frost, and I have taken several preventative actions:
|Bella helping to trim the arrowroot|
- I planted frost tolerant veges so I have something growing in the garden - this includes brassicas, peas, broadbeans, silverbeet, leeks and spring onions, and I won't get so upset when the beans and tomatoes die :)
|plenty of frost-tolerant brassicas and asian greens this winter :)|
- I bought a small greenhouse for the sensitive plants that I want to keep - chillies, eggplant and avocado that took SO long to mature, I don't want to start from scratch next spring, so I hope to keep them all alive over winter, I also put away the greek basil and the ginger. We were planning to have the aquaponics greenhouse finished, but got carried away with other projects, so a $40 plastic greenhouse is sufficient to keep a few things safe from frost this winter.
- I cut back the frost sensitive perinnials - last year the beans, arrowroot and comfrey all died back from the frost and I was left with heaps of brown leaves and stalks to remove, so I thought I may as well cut them back while they were green and use them for mulch before they died. This also reduced the shade around the garden (great for summer but unnecessary in winter). In the end I didn't get to use any of it for mulch as Bella and Molly decided to eat it all and I didn't mind. I didn't have the heart to cut back the giant paw paws though!
- I plan to keep sprouting - even in the middle of winter if you can't get anything to grow outside, you can always sprout! Over summer I used lots of sprouts in salads, and in winter I like to grow the larger sprouts (mung beans and fenugreek in particular) to throw into stews and steamed veges.
- I have changed my watering routine - instead of watering in the afternoon after work using the hose with spray nozzle, I have rigged up a large sprinkler so I can water first thing in the morning, this means the plants won't have soaking wet leaves overnight, which can cause extra frost damage. Early morning water can also help to warm up frosted leaves before the sun hits them and causes them to heat too quickly.
I should be grateful that we don't have to deal with snow, so many blogs I read can't grow anything over winter, and that would be another challenge in itself! I guess I get frustrated because we are so close to having a sub-tropical climate here, but for a few cold nights over winter, however if you're prepared, you can at least keep something growing.
Actually I was trying to think of things to which I should be grateful to frost for and I did think of a few:
- It does kill off a number of annoying weeds and bugs
- At least I can grow veges that do like some chill time, like carrots, turnips, swedes and broadbeans, and fruit trees like apples and stonefruit (or at least I hope I can grow them!).
Do you get frost? And how do you deal with it?