Allotment frosts and fears

So, after we spent the weekend planting out peas (Meteor) and second early potatoes (Charlotte), we had a heavy frost on Sunday night.

The peas on 201, which is fully fenced, are planted against a bit of old wire mesh with metal posts to hold it steady and Himself pegged some horticultural fleece over them in a sort of makeshift tent. I have every confidence that they will be fine. But on 235, where there is no fence to provide even limited frost protection, the peas are being supported by twiggy branches and they don’t have any fleece over them. I have every expectation that they will have been blighted by air frost, but I’m hoping I might just be able to nip out the blackened tips and they’ll get back on course.

The broad beans on 235 have been overwintered – they were protected by old double-glazing panels supported on bricks until about a week ago when they got too tall and were pressing their heads against the glass. I know that if they’ve been frost-blighted, they should come back if I take out the tops, which we’d probably do anyway, given that broad bean tops attract blackfly like nobody’s business. The second sowing of broad beans is still in the cold frame at 201, so they should be fine.

The good news, as far as I am concerned, is that I prevented Himself watering the onion sets on 201 on Sunday afternoon – onions don’t need a vast amount of water, and had they been given a good soak, they would probably have lifted from the ground on the frost and could have been wiped out. Of course, all this is speculation until I get up there, this afternoon, to see what the actual damage is.

Our latest frost date is, as far as I can discover, 18 April, so there are plenty more frightening nights ahead. Some plants, like the Japanese quince hedge in the photograph, have a special enzyme that protects them from frost damage: snowdrops have it too, which is why they don't blacken when they are blanketed in snow. I could wish that some clever boffin would hybridise it into spring vegetables ...

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, March 30, 2009

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