Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Saving Frost-Killed Plants

In a previous post I mentioned that my Cold Frame will protect cool season crops pretty well but other plants, not so much. I had two tomato plants and six pepper plants out in the cold frame to harden off and they were doing just fine for several weeks. Then temps dropped to 12 degrees at night. That wasn't what the weatherman predicted though so I left my plants out in the Cold Frame. All but one pepper plant were frost-killed. I left them out in the box though thinking I would have to buy new plants. The original plants were purchased down in Maryland, which weather wise is about 3-4 weeks ahead of where I live in Pennsylvania. No local nurseries were selling plants in my area yet. So I figured I would just wait a couple weeks and start over. 

So this is what the plants looked like a couple days after the severe frost. The plant was fatally burned by the 12 degree night time temperature. But as you can see there is still a tiny bit of green at the bottom of the stem even several days after the deadly night. In my experience, if you still have green, you can still save the plant (if you want to). So I removed some of the dirt from around the green nub so it would be exposed to sunlight. Green means it can absorb sunlight and convert it to energy. I also watered it well. Now, the only reason this plant survived at all is because I transplanted it from the six-pack container I bought it in, to a half gallon pot with the soil mix I talked about before (Sand, charcoal, and compost). This allowed the roots to grow quickly and for the plant to produce and store energy.

After a couple days a tiny sprout started growing from the green nub. This is evidence that the plant has enough energy to regrow. This is a very fragile growth though so these pots are going in and out of the garage with the replacement plants that I bought (see previous post). For the first couple of days I only put the plants out in diffused light, not in the direct sun light. I didn't want to sunburn the plants.

As you can see, this plant's sprout has now put out two leaves and will now quickly grow. The roots are good, the soil is good, and it is on its way to being a full plant in a couple weeks. So these plants will be behind the growth curve compared to the new plants that I started but they will still eventually produce peppers and tomatoes that I can process and can. It cost me nothing at all, except a little bit of time, to save a couple plants. 

So if you think you lost your plants to frost, give them a second chance and see if you can recover them. It saves you a bit of money and is satisfying.

1 July 2016 Update: The pepper plant did not recover but the tomato plant did. The tomato plant is now 20 inches tall with a couple flowers on it. I planted it in my dad's garden since he was in the hospital for the whole planting season. We will get some late season tomatoes from this salvaged plant. A 50% success rate is not too bad at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment