Are we ready for this again? A light freeze is predicted for the Front Range tonight with temperatures expected to get down to 31 degrees F. Because we did this dance last week, here is a repeat of suggestions for protecting your plants:
If your winter squash, melons and pumpkins aren’t ripe, tent the patch with a cover of PLASTIC, not blankets. It is fine if the vines die back; those fruits that have begun to ripen will continue to do so after we warm again.
If you plan on trying to tent your tomatoes, keep in mind that those which have started to color can take the cold temps under cover, but immature green tomatoes will stop development and never ripen. Pick these today and enjoy them fried.
Grapes need covering if you still have fruit on the vine.
Carrots, beets, parsnips and other root vegetables will be fine – no covering is necessary. Potato vines will die off, but the tubers will be unharmed; plan to harvest those this weekend. Lettuce, bok choy, leeks, spinach, brussels sprouts, and broccoli can take the cold.
Kale will sweeten with a bit of frost, so leave that out in the open.
If you’re not sick of the garden yet, cover your tender plants, such as peppers, eggplant or basil, being sure that the covering does not touch the plant and extends completely to the ground. The warmth of the soil will fill the covering like a tent, keeping temperatures just above freezing. Cloth coverings won’t work because of the rainy conditions before the snow, so plastic is preferred. Remove the coverings in the morning to allow the soil to warm again.
Perennials should have been hardening off over the past month in response to cooler nights and shortened days. They don’t need covering.