November 12, 2014

After the Frost

After our first frost on November 1st, I've been watching the plants in the herb garden. Our average first frost date is October 31st so we were right on schedule. It was 30*F when I got up that Saturday morning. Since then we've had cold night temperatures, but no frost or freeze until yesterday, November 11th.

I was surprised that not all of my herbs were killed by the first frost. I'd taken the pots of oregano, chocolate mint and rosemary inside the day before to overwinter in the house. Of the plants that were left outside, the basil succumbed right away and the zinnia plant (not an herb, just pretty flowers) dried out over the next couple of days.

The nearby tomato and paprika pepper plants of course were frost-bitten, although the tomatoes themselves survived and for the following week I picked a tomato or two each day that was beginning to turn orange.


Then Scooter, my puppy, discovered the green tomatoes and picked them off the branches. They were more visible after the leaves died off and I guess they were irresistible. He'd lay in the yard, gnawing on one of the hard green orbs, or tossing it around like a ball. I'm finding half-eaten tomatoes every time I go outside.


The frost survivors: the calendula plants were still green, and the marigolds continued to bloom. The catnip looked pretty good - I'd harvested most of the leaves before the frost, but those that remained didn't give up until this week's killing frost which of course wiped out everything.


I air-dried the catnip leaves in baskets, laying on paper towels. When they were completely dry and I moved them to a storage jar, I tossed the paper towels in the nearly-full trash can, but on my next trip through the kitchen the paper towels were torn into shreds and strewn around the floor with Collins lying in the middle of them, his eyes glazed over and a silly grin on his face. He must have reached up and pulled the papers out of the trash can.

I had two window panes that we'd saved from the old goat shed when we tore it down, and I thought they might fit on top of the two metal tubs I've been using as planters. They did fit exactly - but the tops of the tubs aren't flat, they have been bent, pulled down, and one tub isn't quite square anymore. There is too much space for cold air to make its way inside, so my cold-frame idea won't be as simple as I'd hoped. I'll need to build a box to fit the window glass. I'd better get busy on that so they will be ready to use in early spring.

The horses and goats hadn't grown much in the way of winter coats until that first frost, but now they have soft, thick, fuzzy coats that will help keep them warm. The barn cats have found warm hidey holes among the hay bales in which to spend the cold nights.


I've pulled the tank heater out of storage and it is keeping the horses' water trough free of ice. I can dip unfrozen water from this large trough for the cats and chickens until our daytime temperatures crawl above freezing again; I've also gathered empty cat litter jugs to use to haul water from the house for the goats.

Stay warm, everyone! The weatherfolk say it's going to be this cold for the foreseeable future.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I read your blog and follow it on facebook. Very informative. Thank you.
    I have recently started a blog about homesteading at:
    I hope you can take a break and check it out.
    Brenda at Southern Urban Homesteader

  2. Hi Brenda, I hopped over and love your blog too. Thank you for your sweet comment.

  3. Yep that first frost is always a killer. Ours arrived this week and today the snow arrived. Sadly I haven't managed to clear my flower beds so it looks like they will stay that way till spring now.

  4. Ida, the weather went from too hot to work outside straight to too cold to work outside, didn't it? Stay warm!

  5. Our frost was very early this year. It was a teaching lesson for the homestead kiddos. They were very surprised that it instantly killed their watermelon plant! Thanks for sharing at Homestead Blog Hop!


  6. And thank you for hosting the hop, Jen.

  7. It's so interesting to me that the animals fur changes so fast. We had our first dip below 32degrees last night. No frost and we covered our lone tomato plant. Everything else looks great and the lettuce is sweeter. Thanks for sharing at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.

  8. Hi Kathi,
    I am the newest host of From the Farm Blog Hop and I chose your post as my favorite this week.
    I love to see how others deal with Winter around the homestead. Here in NC Winters are not that bad, but yesterday I woke up and found the chickens' water completely frozen. I'll have to find a smaller version of the tank heater you mentioned, or just fill a new bucket with water from the house for them each morning. Anyway, thanks for sharing this and I hope you'll come back to link some more great posts this week.

  9. Beautiful pictures! It's been frosty here in Northwest Arkansas too!

  10. Thank you for visiting, Talya. The cold weather sure came to the South early this year, didn't it?


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