My garden has milestones. There are no first words, no first steps, no first day of school. But there were first sprouts, first fruits, and as of last night, first frost.
There is this magic date in gardening called “first frost.” It is the date one uses to mark the end of the summer gardening season, when all crops that can’t handle cold should be finished for the year. A gardener uses this date to back-calculate how late it is possible to plant summer crops. For us, that magic date is somewhere in the first week of October. This date is based on probabilities. It means we should expect our first frost on average to be in that first week of October.
It is not October. So I don’t speak of the imaginary first frost date. I am talking about the actual frost we got last night, September 14th, the first of this season, and the first fall frost I’ve ever had as a gardener, this being my first garden.
I covered what plants I could with sheets and blankets and extra fabric, trying to get a few of each kind of plant protected. I went to bed with my fingers crossed that the “Patchy Frost” would pick patches other than my garden. But in the morning, there it was, the edges of plants painted in white, the dark sheets sparkling with ice.
Frost might be deadly, but it is beautiful. And I have so many apples and peaches and tomatoes already waiting in my kitchen to be preserved, I can’t say I’m really upset that the last few weeks of the season will be less abundant. I’m actually excited to watch what happens to the plants that were hit as the frost thaws and they die back. Because I’ve never seen it happen before this up close and personal.
Congratulations, garden, on your first frost.