OK, the folk wisdom here in south-central PA is that it’s safe to plant after Mother’s Day. I actually planted a lot of things a week before that so-called safe day but I had checked the weather forecasts and the week before Mother’s Day looked great so I thought I was safe.
Than what happens? Wide spread frost two days after Mother’s Day! They had been talking about it on the weather but I just couldn’t believe it would really happen. I did cover the pepper plants because I know they’re really sensitive to cold weather and I threw a little straw on the tomatoes but that was it. I decided to let all of the rest tough it out.
As I surveyed the damage, I was at first a little concerned. Some of the plants looked pretty bad. The potatoes were black. The portulacas had turned white and the begonias looked like pink mush.
But as I looked closer, I saw that all of these plants were fine despite how they might look. I have straw mulch on the potatoes and below the straw the plants were green and should come back easily.
The portulacas were frosted and dead on top but underneath the dead leaves were green leaves and stems.
While the begonias looked horrible, when I pulled back some on the leaves I realized that the plant had saved itself. The frosted leaves had protected the stems and the buds and I think they’ll make it as well.
And the tomatoes – they really took a beating. The straw didn’t seem to do much to protect them. I was almost ready to pull them up but then I realized that while almost all the leaves had died, the stems still felt firm and healthy and the petioles that attach the leaves to the stems seemed OK as well. I’m thinking that the buds of the tomato that are in that junction of the stem and petiole weren’t damaged and will grow into new stems and leaves. I pushed away the straw so that the sun can get to the stems and I’m going to give them a week or two to see what happens. I certainly won’t get an early tomato harvest but I think I’ll still get one without replanting.
To me, all of this is part of the adventure of gardening. Cold snaps at this time of year are rare but I think my plants survived what Mother Nature threw at them!