Tonight, Lancaster County hits another fall milestone with a first frost advisory.
Tender plants might not make it through the night as temperatures drop. If you still want non-hardy plants to last a few more weeks or you are still harvesting vegetables that are not cold-tolerant like peppers and tomatoes, there are a few steps to take.
A killing frost brings temperatures of 32 degrees, but it’s good to take extra precautions even if temperatures are expected to hit 35, according to the Lancaster County office of Penn State Ag Extension. Traditionally, that happens in Lancaster County around Oct. 15, so this frost warning is on time.
The frost advisory from the National Weather Service cautions central Pennsylvania, including Lancaster County, could see temperatures as low as 33 degrees from 2 to 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
Take these extra precautions if you want to maintain plants for a little longer:
- Hardy plants such as mums, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower do not need to be protected and will survive through temperatures in the 20s. Some gardeners like the cooler temperatures and prefer the taste of produce such as Brussel sprouts that have survived a frost.
- Bring non-hardy potted plants indoors or at least into a garage for protection.
- Cover non-hardy plants before nightfall. This traps the soil’s heat. However, don’t allow the covering to touch the plant, which can cause frost damage. Fabric is a good choice but plastic sheeting or an inverted plastic bucket also works.
- Wait until the sun rises and temperatures are 40 degrees to remove the covering. Sometimes the coldest temperatures can come after daybreak. Saturday’s frost advisory ends at 8 a.m.
- Protected non-hardy plants won’t grow fast after a frost, but the produce will continue to ripen on warm days.