10 Weeks of Vegetable Gardening: Week 9

by - March 25, 2011

Each Friday I am posting a weekly guide for prepping your home vegetable garden. In Raleigh, the last killing frost date is April 11 (on average, give or take a week), so my first weekend for planting (summer crops) outdoors is April 9.

If you just couldn't resist planting some of your sprouts before the last frost date, you might be a little nervous about the frost warnings for this weekend. I couldn't help planting a couple tomatoes and squash early but saved most for planting later. Still, those seedlings are an investment of time and money, so I want to protect them.

Here are a several tips for protecting those plants that are susceptible to frost damage:

1) Make tents out of a vertical stakes and a pillow case, blanket, newspaper, or tarp. This will help trap the heat and keep it from escaping at night. It is best to do this early in the evening before they have begun to lose a lot of heat.

2) Cut soda bottles or milk jugs in half and place over the plants. This will create a mini green house around each plant.

3) Water the ground well before nightfall. The wet ground loses heat more slowly and can insulate the plants.

4) Bring potted plants inside as the roots have less ground to insulate them from the cold.

5) Mulch the garden. Mulch will not only hold in the moisture, but it will also hold in the heat. You will still want to protect the leaves, so pair this with the tents or bottles.

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