Freeze Frenzy

Gather ye peppers while ye may

Gather ye peppers while ye may

I’ve been away from the blog a bit, because I’ve been outside trying to catch up on gardening tasks. Those tasks achieved urgent status this week when it became clear that the first killing freeze of the season was imminent. In my region, it is supposed to be tomorrow night. But I live in a cold pocket, so I’m betting we’ll see temperatures below freezing in my yard tonight.

Yesterday afternoon, I picked all the greens that were big enough to eat, along with fresh chives, parsley, dill, and basil, and every pepper left on the plants. Peppers faint at the slightest sign of chilly air. I also picked a big bouquet of nasturtium flowers. They are another plant that melts into mush when 30-degree temperatures visit the garden. I love the fragrance of nasturtiums; they smell like heirloom roses — sweet, but not cloying.

The green basils all melted into fungal yuck during our two weeks of rain, but the purples put on a late growth spurt.

The green basils all melted into fungal yuck during our two weeks of rain, but the purples put on a late growth spurt.

I’ve covered the greens bed with a tent of garden fabric, and I expect they will  mostly survive the two-day chill we’re in for. Warmer temperatures are predicted to return after that, so I’m hopeful more home-grown salads will be in our near future.

Enthusiastic broccoli

Enthusiastic broccoli

My tented broccoli loved the two-week rain. I don’t think I’ve ever grown such happy fall broccoli. Flower heads are just beginning to look big enough to harvest. After the cold snap, I’m going to fertilize these veggies and the greens in the hopes of encouraging some faster growth before prolonged cold settles in.

Chives and parsley also loved the two-weeks of rain.

Chives and parsley also loved the two-weeks of rain.

The drought had turned the chives into dry stalks, but they got a new lease on life after two weeks of rain. I’ve never had such a healthy autumn chive crop. And the parsley perked up too.

A sure sign of colder weather

A sure sign of colder weather

This afternoon, Wonder Spouse helped me drain the front water feature and relocate the partially submerged pots of plants that summered there. It’s slimy, mucky work, and we had to relocate four unhappy frogs down the hill to the small pond on our floodplain. These frogs were not born in our little water feature; they migrate up from the creek during rainy summer nights. The tree frogs and toads that start as tadpoles in spring in our artificial pool metamorphose and move out into the yard.

The water in the bucket is murky, but you can just make out the outlines of the four frogs we relocated today.

The water in the bucket is murky, but you can just make out the outlines of the four frogs we relocated today.

Earlier this week, I cleaned up my greenhouse, which had been vacant all summer. Then I weeded my way to where my potted plants had been summering beneath the Southern Magnolia, cleaned up all the pots, then loaded them into a wheelbarrow for transport to the greenhouse. By the end of summer, these pots harbor a wide assortment of weeds, slugs, snails, rolly-polys, and occasionally (but not this year) tree frogs or a Carolina Anole. This year’s biggest surprise was a cranky black rat snake that considered the area its turf. I posted some photos of it on the Piedmont Gardener Facebook page. It has been quite annoyed by my weeding, and today it was very upset with us as we drained the water feature, even rearing up as if to strike when Wonder Spouse stepped closer for a look.

Nestled snugly in their greenhouse for their winter naps

Nestled snugly in their greenhouse for their winter naps

The good news is that the frenzy of activity prompted by the impending freeze is done — and a good thing, because I’m not sure that either Wonder Spouse or I will be walking fully upright tomorrow. We were pushing our joints and muscles pretty hard, and our “mature” bodies just don’t bounce back from that sort of abuse the way they did a few decades ago.

When I do recover and the warmer weather returns, I’ll resume my attempts to catch up on weeding. The prolonged rains caused every weed to quadruple in size, so it’s going to be a winter-long task.

That’s if the winter will let me. Weather scientists are saying we’re in the midst of a strong El Nino year, which for my region means average temperatures and above-normal precipitation.  Frozen or liquid, precipitation impedes yard work. But perhaps that is just as well. I confess the idea of remaining warm indoors with books and my computer for a month or two is sounding pretty darn wonderful about now.

Stay warm, ya'll.

Stay warm, ya’ll.

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  1. #1 by Jenny on October 18, 2015 - 7:40 am

    Hi, I am brand new to western North Carolina(marion). I like to see demonstration gardens to get ideas and wondered if you can recommend any. Thank you for your blog, very informative and enjoyable. Thanks, Jenny

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on October 18, 2015 - 9:47 am

      Welcome, Jenny. I’ve sent you an e-mail with a few suggestions you can consider. I’m delighted you are enjoying my blog.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. #3 by Mike Sepelak on October 18, 2015 - 9:56 am

    Busy, busy, busy. It always creeps up on you, that first frost, doesn’t it? Stay warm!

    • #4 by piedmontgardener on October 18, 2015 - 10:15 am

      Indeed it does, Mike. 🙂 Have you got all your firewood chopped and stacked for winter warmth, or have you been too busy galavanting about on exotic adventures?

  3. #5 by Donna on October 18, 2015 - 11:21 am

    I’m hoping it zaps the microstegium! It’s just starting to flower, so that would give us a year of reprieve.

    • #6 by piedmontgardener on October 18, 2015 - 11:31 am

      Wouldn’t that be wonderful, Donna! I shall add my hope to yours. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

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