Time to Cover

Tonight in Saskatoon the forecast is for 2 overnight with a risk of frost. The weather today is rather unpleasant (60km winds and a high of 15, no patches of blue in sight), I just had to throw out one of my ripe Celebrities because it had a pretty disgusting case of blossom end rot, and to top it off our bikes got stolen from our garage last night. All in all, August is not ending on a high note.

Usually after the first cold, frosty night, the weather warms up a bit for a while, so I’m hoping that will be the case this week. However, frost is frost, and it will damage your plants, so if they’re still in the ground you’ll need to cover them tonight if you don’t want to pull them out today.

Anything with above-ground fruit should be covered. If the temperature isn’t going below zero, row cover or plastic is fine (as long as it keeps the frost off the fruit) but I usually use heavier bedspreads which I tell myself hold in a bit more heat. 2 is not a great temperature for tomatoes to hit, if you can help it.

My tomato plants are currently covered in red plastic but I’ll be putting another layer of blankets overtop, and I’ll be doing the same with my cucumbers, lettuce, melons, and strawberries. Things like carrots, beets, and hardy leafy greens like chard or kale are generally okay with a touch of frost and don’t need to be covered (and it may even improve the flavour of bitter greens like kale).

If you don’t have any covering media, a great place to get cheap bedding is Value Village (it seems to be the one thing at VV that isn’t overpriced these days). Secondhand sheets are a lot cheaper than horticultural row cover, and I recommend buying ones that are heavy enough that you won’t need to stake down.

It was inevitable we’d get to this point one of these days. August feels unfortunately early, but this is what we get for gardening in Saskatchewan.

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