MYSTIC & STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Giving Garden and Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center has already provided more than six tons of food to the needy this year in southeastern Connecticut and that need is year round.
So they have to be prepared for frost and whatever else mother nature sends their way.
A cloth now covers the kale. Without it the farm could have lost 250 pounds of food to frost.
“All of this covering is to extend our season,” says farm manager Craig Floyd. “So go ahead mother nature bring on the frost cause I got it.”
A large hoop house on the farm also allows for year round growing and some of the tallest tomato plants around.
Outdoor tomatoes and peppers can be covered up but it’s probably best to harvest them before there’s frost while underground vegetables can take the cold.
“You’ve not had a carrot until you pull it out of the snow,” says Floyd. “I mean it changes the sugar.”
At the nearby Stonington Gardens some plants can stay outside.
“The Zinnia actually can take a little bit of a frost,” says owner Nancy Nieuwenhuis.
Perennials like mums will survive the drop in temperatures.
“When they get hit by frost it can change their color just a little bit,” says Nieuwenhuis
Kale and cabbage can survive even more.
“This can stay outside until Christmas,” says Nieuwenhuis as she stands by dozens of cabbage plants.
This is the time though to take in house plants and tropicals like the banana plants they sold this summer at Stonington Gardens. Most annuals won’t survive a frost.
While it may be worth covering herbs you’re still using, the first frost usually means the end for annuals and Nieuwenhuis says that’s okay. You can let them go.
“If you enjoyed it for a certain period of time and you got out of it what you wanted too then it’s okay,” she says. “It’s okay.”
One thing many might not realize is that frost actually pushes stones up through the ground so the work of removing them from gardens continues year after year.