Promising tomatoes wiped out

Mother Nature was cruel, indeed

| Conventional wisdom in the desert is that gardens should be planted in October.

Planting at that time gives a nice long growing season, but it also presents the risk of frost, and those who would not like to see their vegetables wiped out by frost must cover the plants when a freeze threatens. The last few days of 2014 were cold; that's Cold with a capital C! Accordingly I carefully swaddled my vegetable beds in colorful tarps to ward off the frost.

In years past, that has been sufficient, but not this time. Not only did the temperatures drop below freezing, but the winds blew fiercely all night long. After the first such night, everything looked pretty much OK, although there was a bit of damage on some of the newest leaves of the tomato plants.

Not so the second night. When I took off the tarps the next morning, it was obvious that great damage had been done: the tomato plants had clearly frozen and the leaves of the pepper plants were utterly limp and drooping.

Since then we've had a real warm spell, with nighttime temperatures in the 50s and 60s, so I left the plants in the hope they would show signs of recovery. Yesterday, however, I decided it was just not going to happen, and I ripped them out. What a shame! I had about a dozen small tomatoes that were developing, and several dozen buds that had not yet set fruit. It was going to be a bumper crop.

I still haven't decided whether to replant. It wouldn't be the latest planting I've made, and there is something about a home-grown, fine-ripened tomato that surpasses anything you can ever find in a supermarket.

Ironically, the plants I had considered the most delicate, and therefore most vulnerable to frost, turned out to be the ones that survived unscathed! Both the head lettuce and leaf lettuce show nary a sign of damage. Go figure!

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Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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