First hard frost of the winter

We’ve had a few frosts so far this winter, but the temperature has only really got down to -1C and then for only two or three hours. As if in celebration of the end of 2020 however, last night the temperature dropped rapidly and stayed below freezing for almost twelve hours, reaching a fraction below -4C.

The green lettuces and radishes in the polytunnel clearly didn’t appreciate the cold. Their leaves had sagged quite obviously. A close inspection of the more recently spread compost inside the tunnel still showed signs of frost even at 11am. The more red lettuces (Lollo Rossa and Red Little Gem) didn’t seem to mind so much though, showing very little sign of being affected. The mustards all looked quite unstressed. I checked the greenhouse and all looked well there to my relief, but in fact by the end of the day all the plants in the polytunnel had perked up again. It still looks as though we have a fair run of cold nights ahead of us, so I don’t think I can assume we’re out of the woods yet. Frosts have been quite rare over the last five to ten years and I think we’ve been lulled into a bit of a false sense of security. Last winter we had very few, but then there was a very late one in May that burnt some of the potato leaves and hit the tomatoes in the polytunnel quite hard.

Knowing that the frost was likely I also moved all my over-wintering peppers into the greenhouse yesterday. They look to be ok for the moment though it’s really not easy to tell given that they’re little more than green sticks.

Outdoors the onions didn’t look too impressed with the cold either, many of their leaves flopping onto the ground. I must admit I forgot to check them before I came back indoors this afternoon.

If it looks like we’re going to get a lot of freezing nights then I think I’ll break out some of the fleece I’ve just bought to give some of the more tender plants a little extra protection.

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