Quick Tip: Preparing Your Potted Garden for a Hard Freeze

Reader Contribution by Melodie Metje
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When a hard freeze is in the forecast, it is time to pick the last of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and clean the plants from the garden! 

All the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants should be harvested before the vine is killed.  Green tomatoes can be made into fried green tomatoes (I love a spicy fish breading on mine), pickled, or stored in a dark place to ripen.  You can bring your pepper plants indoors and they will flower and produce for weeks.  They will survive the entire winter and get a one to two month head start on next year’s season.

You can compost any garden debris that is disease free, but dispose of any diseased plants in the garbage. Only high sustained temperatures will destroy the spores and it is not worth the risk of spreading into next year’s garden.

This is the time of year to put a coat on your potted plants that you are going to leave outdoors. The best place to locate your plants and greenhouse is close to protection and on the south side of the house in full sun. Putting the greenhouse against the house will help keep the temperatures warmer for your plants.

I have my portable greenhouse over my three Earthoxes that contain kale, celery, French dandelion, spinach, lettuce, blood veined sorrel, and garden purslane. It is also best to make sure the pots are sitting directly on the ground.  I have my pots placed next to our outdoor kitchen and on the concrete patio.  The outdoor kitchen wall and concrete patio absorbs heat during the day to release overnight, keeping the temperatures from dipping inside the greenhouse.

I put five 1 gallon jugs filled with water and spray painted black inside the greenhouse along the outside edge. I have 2 on each side and 1 in the end.  The black will help heat up the water during the day.  These will help moderate the temperature inside the greenhouse overnight.  Make sure you have the edges of greenhouse secured to the ground (there is an internal flap all around the inside of my greenhouse that I placed the milk jugs on to hold the flaps down).

The biggest risk with a greenhouse? Overheating! The sun’s rays are quite hot on a cloudless day. I open the vent on my greenhouse when it is sunny and in the 30’s. I will unzip the front door flap when it gets into the 40’s.   In the 50’s, the cold crops really don’t need any protection.

For more potted and small space gardening tips, see my blog atVictoryGardenOnTheGolfCourse.Blogspot.com.