Today's Almanac

When I went outside this morning, it was very clear that we finally had our first frost last night. There were sparkling white ice crystals on everything, and my breath hung in the air. It was 30 degrees when I left for work. This was a very late frost for us here in Newburyport — it came after the first snowfall (in our back yard, at least). According to plantmaps.com, the average first frost date falls between October 11 and October 20 in Newburyport. We're in a warm pocket between the Merrimack and Parker rivers, it would seem. But this year we managed to squeeze out an extra two or three weeks of growing time, so we were very lucky.

I couldn't take pictures of the frost, though, because I leave for work by 6:10 a.m. At this time of year, it's still pitch dark at that hour. In fact, the sun didn't rise until 7:16 a.m. today. By then I was already getting my weather report from the old Hancock tower. Sunset, by the way was at 5:33 p.m. That's not much daylight left for garden chores at this time of year!

When I got home, I was able to survey the frost damage. It wasn't a hard freeze, and the only casualty (besides the death blow to the remaining peony stems) was the green beans:


No real loss, though: we'd already picked these clean before the snow. Everything else that was uncovered is still standing: carrots and beets, spinach, herbs, and brussels sprouts were all unaffected by the frost.  And the things in the greenhouse hoops are, of course, still going strong. For example:


This is the cilantro and lettuce that Kirk brought in for tonight's taco fiesta. Fresh, crisp, and still growing!

There's a whole lot of harvest left to happen, even as we pull into winter, and that is very, very encouraging for a New England gardener! 

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