As the last weekend of summer draws to a close and fall weather rolls in, a frost warning has been issued over much of central and northern Alberta heading into Sunday night.
Environment Canada issues frost warnings when temperatures are expected to reach the freezing mark during the growing season, causing potential damage and destruction to plants and crops.
For many green thumbs, the risk of frost means covering their tomatoes at night. But sometimes, not even a blanket can protect your hard-earned reward.
The city of Edmonton is forecast to hit a low of around 5 ° C overnight, however rural areas could see the temperature drop to freezing around 6 a.m., based on the nightly hourly forecast from Environment Canada.
There are some vegetables that can withstand the cold. Here’s a basic list of what to harvest when temperatures drop to zero and what can last for a couple more weeks.
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Beans and peas: Ripe or not, beans and peas do not cope well with frost. If you’re expecting a frosty topping overnight, harvest these and enjoy.
Corn: Ripe corn does not adapt well to frost and must be harvested immediately. Immature ears can be left on the stem in hopes of another week of growth, but a good freeze will shorten their shelf life by three to four days.
Tomatoes and peppers: Ripe tomatoes or peppers should be harvested immediately. If you have unripe branches on the vine and the forecast calls for temperatures around 0 C, you can take a chance. Try placing your plants along the south side of your house and cover them with a blanket. If the forecast is -2 C or colder, it is best to harvest the unripe produce and let it ripen indoors.
Pumpkins: Ripe pumpkins with thick skin should be harvested immediately. Eat your cucumbers right away. Cure your squash, squash, and zucchini in a cool, dark room on a non-metal or concrete surface; this will make them last longer. Immature pumpkins or gourds won’t ripen from the vine, so you’ll want to leave them outside until their skins are quite tough. Hope for the best by covering them with a blanket on those chilly nights and be careful not to squash the vine.
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Apples: Many types of apples can stay on the tree until the end of September (assuming we don’t see a significant snowstorm in late September). A light frost can make the fruit sweeter and more flavorful.
Root vegetables: Vegetables like beets, carrots, onions, and potatoes can stay underground until the surrounding soil begins to freeze. A slight frost would not be a problem, but any type of frost that freezes the ground around you would damage the merchandise.
Lettuce and salad leaves: A light frost will change the texture of these items and they must be harvested to prevent freezing. But if we see a few more beautiful weeks, the base of the plant could still grow. If you’re optimistic, try mowing down the usable greens and waiting to see if you can get another growth before the end of the season.
Kale, cabbage and chard: These hearty greens do well in a light frost. Its colors can become more vibrant and its flavor more robust. But no garden plant will survive a deep freeze. If you think temperatures will drop significantly below 0 C overnight, your best option would be to harvest them and bring them indoors.
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