Last night was the first Austin frost of the season, about a month ahead of schedule. I’m sorry to say I hadn’t been paying much attention to my garden recently anyway, and hadn’t even filled out the space I have. But hearing of the frost, I went out to survey the situation yesterday.
My garden now is mainly pole beans, basil, and squash. My carrots and peas floundered, my flowers never came up, and I never got around to planting garlic, although I might still have time for that if it warms up again.
My pole beans filled out their teepee well, and grew the full 12 feet or so to the top of the bamboo. The beans have just started coming in, though, so I have yet to harvest. I like the idea of the teepee, but I’ll need to use more poles next time, since the structure has became a sail in the wind as the leaves filled in. It’s far too big to worry about protecting from the frost, so I did the next best thing to covering them: I crossed my fingers they would make it through an hour or two at 32 degrees.
My basil has been doing decently, too. The 4 plants I have outside are the biggest I’ve been able to grow so far. When I’m on top of things, they were keeping up just fine with a new batch of pesto every 10 days or so. Unfortunately I’ve heard that they’re very susceptible to the cold. I have yet to check how they did, but I took some precautions yesterday.
The first step was to harvest as much basil as I could, in case of the inevitable. I filled a large mixing bowl which went inside to be frozen, dried, or turned into pesto.
Next, I made a meager attempt to cover the plants to protect them from frost, using the best option I had available: canvas shopping bags. Back in March, the City of Austin banned disposable plastic bags. And so I’ve amassed a collection of the reusable kind. I chose 5 of the thickest ones I had and did my best to cover my basil.
The result featured an NEDP bag that I must have “borrowed” from my mom a while ago and a throwback to Gale Research Company and the dawn of the information highway. This is why I don’t throw things out.
There are certainly better alternatives for covering plants. Of course there’s someone who will sell you frost cloth for this specific purpose that can sit in your garage the rest of the year. I hear bed sheets can work, though I have only one set of sheets and I wasn’t about to strip down my freshly-laundered bed for the sake of my half-maintained garden.
After the sun comes up I’ll go survey the damage and uncover the basil so it can warm up today. Hopefully I won’t also have to recover 30 bean pants that sailed en masse into a neighbor’s yard.