A Brush With Frost

I think (whisper) I have managed to nip through our final brush with frost unscathed. It was a chilly one last night, but fortunately there was also abundant cloud cover and a teeny bit of moisture to coax the plants through the night.

I manoeuvred several containers of tomatoes, nasturtiums and a couple fig trees into the garage, covered what I could and held my breath.

The first thing I did this morning was check out the cucumbers and beans in one of my trough gardens. Neither are at all frost friendly, so I figured if they were still standing the rest of the garden should be as well. To my relief they were still green and vertical on the outside, though no doubt shivering and cursing on the inside.

Speaking of surviving the cold, last year I trialed a Berried Treasure strawberry plant for Proven Winners that offers up deep red blooms instead of the usual white. It is labelled as hardy to zone 4 but it survived the winter in our Zone 2b/3a garden with flying colours. Here is how it looked this morning.

I see they are readily available all over town this year, so I thought I would mention it. I mulched it fairly heavy in the fall and it was in a spot that received a lot of snow that stayed late into the spring, so maybe that helped.

The blooms really are beautiful, making it a fun addition to a potager garden where you are trying to create both beauty and edibles. The only downside is the flavour is nowhere as good as my Seascape, Kent or Honeye berries, but the blossoms are indisputably beautiful.

And here’s a glimpse of the raised raspberry and strawberry beds through a small potato, lettuce and pea patch. I can’t wait to breakfast on fresh raspberries, strawberries or peas in a pod while standing in the garden or to cook up some new potatoes and toss a homegrown salad for supper.

Hopefully everyone escaped the final threat of frost and now we are summer bound for bountiful harvests!

October Diamonds

Ah, the Peace Country. Its gorgeous skies, unfurling fields and rolling forests. Its crazy eruption of green-everything come spring, its practically perfect summers and those dazzling lemon leaves in the fall.

And then there’s snow. You just never know about the snow. Some years it doesn’t settle in until December. Seriously. I can remember combining taking place in that month because…well, because snow had hit earlier in the year but it had melted. The point is we were combining. In December. We even have pictures of family on a greenish lawn Christmas day taken just northwest of Dawson Creek.

We also have pictures of us building a snowman in August.

Last year there were petunias still blooming in planters around town as we neared the final week of October. This year snow fell on October first and the rooftops have been white in our city ever since. We got another blast of the white rain the other night with more in the forecast.

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Usually the first autumn snow melts as rapidly as it appears. It merely serves as a wake-up call to get the lawn furniture in, the woodshed filled and the garden put to bed. Others years…this happens. The snow falls early and doesn’t leave until spring; whenever that might be. Could be March, might be April, often it’s in May. Nature is caught in all its stages right now. There are still green leaves on some trees, others have turned colour and still more are winter barren. It’s a bit of a mind trip driving down our highways and back roads.

As Mark Twain once said, everyone complains about the weather but no one ever does anything about it.

What can you do?

Well…you can always move. And a lot of people from the Peace Country do just that. Few can say they haven’t thought about it at least once. Some move and wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. Others return, grateful for things they had taken for granted the first time around. Many are just here for the jobs and can’t wait to see this place in their rear view mirror.

As for me I…I…I (whisper) kind of like winter.

There. I said it. I probably won’t still be saying it come March, but I’m saying it now. And what’s more is I know I’m not alone. A lot of people up here quietly appreciate the north in all its expressions. Even its frosty ones.

I’m looking out over rooftops slathered in white this morning. Overhead our rolling skies and bright sunshine make the snow sparkle like diamonds.

October diamonds.

What more could you ask for?

Don’t answer that.

 

 

 

First Frost

I have always said that the only thing I would change about gardening in the Peace is to tack an extra frost-free month on either end of the season. We usually get an average of 85 frost-free days. Once, when I loaded those numbers into a computer garden planner program, it asked me to recheck my numbers since it would be “highly unlikely to have so few frost-free days”. Talk about insult to injury! I have always wondered what it would be like to have 120 frost-free days. Well, now I know.

I realize frost hits us all at different times. Even neighbours a mile north or south of us get or avoid frosts that we don’t. But as of yesterday, here on the McKinnon homestead we officially made 120 days without a lick of frost. If it wasn’t for concerns over global warming I’d be ecstatic. It’s crazy. The roses are blooming all over again and just yesterday afternoon I came across a gentian dripping in gorgeous deep blue blooms–a sight normally reserved for a brief week or two in early spring. Some days I find myself tapping my toe waiting for the killing frost to sweep in so I can start tossing on the winter mulch, but mostly I am revelling in all the bonus blooms.

We got our first frost last night, but while it knocked the beans to their knees everything else still looks pretty good, so it can’t be called the killing frost. Not yet. Here’s how things are looking in my garden…

Despite the lack of frost the aspens are still turning yellow; the rest of the garden still has lots of colour going on.

Despite the lack of frost the aspens are still turning yellow; the rest of the garden still has lots of colour going on.

A look at those gorgeous lemon leaves against our cobalt blue skies!

A look at those gorgeous lemon leaves against our cobalt blue skies!

Hope for Humanity Rose still blooming strong!

Hope for Humanity Rose still blooming strong!

One of many viburnums crackling with colour

One of many viburnums crackling with colour

And of course the Japanese Blood Grass still showing its spears of red...this one gets a generous hay mulch for winter since it's only supposed to be hardy to zone 5. The mulch got it through last winter and I hoping it will again.

And of course the Japanese Blood Grass still showing its spears of red…this one gets a generous hay mulch for winter since it’s only supposed to be hardy to zone 5. Mulch got it through last winter and I am hoping it will again. In Ontario it is a bit invasive. If you look you can see it did send out a runner…maybe this will be an introduction I will regret.

The kitchen herbs on the deck are still okay...have to remember to bring them in!

The kitchen herbs on the deck are still okay…have to remember to bring them in!

And the kale is turning sweet with frost!

And the kale is turning sweet with frost!