The frost has come.
There is a saying, 'may the frost come late enough that you reap the benefits of your hard work, but soon enough that you don't break your back.'
I think about this saying everything I think of the frost. It is always a milestone on the farm, and we experienced our first light frost early Saturday morning. It's always bittersweet- marking the end of many crops and signifying an end to the summer, but the beginning of fall. The reason the frost is such a big deal on the farm is because plant tissue is made up primarily of water-and we all know what happens when we put a sealed waterbottle into a freezer-the water expands as it turns into ice and the waterbottle explodes. Hopefully it's not a glass waterbottle! The same happens in each individual cell of the plant tissue. As the temperature drops and the water turns to ice, the cell bursts, thus killing the leaf.
But not all crops die in the frost! Many plants have adapted to live in cooler climates. More on those later...Crops that are susceptible to the frost are the cucurbits (summer squash, melons, winter squash, cucumbers) solenaceous (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), and others like beans, and some herbs. We were able to cover some of these crops with floating row cover, which is basically a sheet that we drape over the crop to provide a few degrees of protection. It worked! We were able to save the beans and peppers through this frost. We don't have one in the next 10 day forecast.