a journal of our edible education


Frostbit Tomato


For some reason (please feel free to explain in the comments section) a forecast predicting temperatures in the mid to upper thirties does not preclude a chance of frost.  In the wee hours of Monday,  morning Jack Frost decided to pay a visit to our garden.  Fortunately, most of our winter crops were unfazed, however, many of our tomatoes and eggplants were traumatized and in some cases obliterated.  What is really strange, though, is how the damage wasn’t across the board.  Like a tornado that wipes out one house and leaves another across the street unfazed,  frost found the plants that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Sometimes just a few feet was the difference between “no damage at all” and “I think that slimy blob used to be a tomato plant.”  Microclimates are real.



The embarrassing part is that the reason our tomato plants were in these pots to begin with was to prevent this very scenario.  The upper grades have been discussing (at length) the “window of opportunity” that gardeners have to grow tomatoes successfully in Central Florida.  They have learned that most tomatoes will not “set” fruit once temperatures consistently are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that happens pretty early around these parts and as is painfully obvious; we can still get frost in February.  This leaves precious little time to grow a plant that is big enough to produce flowers before it gets too hot.  That’s why we start our tomato seeds in pots, so that we can get them going before Christmas.  We leave them outside when its warm and bring them inside…. when … we ….uhm…have.. a…um, you know……. a frost.

Oh well, the reason we are doing this is to learn, right?  At least grace was extended and we still have many survivors.  We’ll be watching the local weather a bit more closely and will eventually put these lucky ones in the ground,  that is after Jack Frost has left town for good.


5 responses

  1. Janice Banks

    So sorry, but like you said, this leads to a great learning opportunity. Here’s to embracing failure and having a greater appreciation for success!!

    February 19, 2013 at 7:32 am

  2. Thanks I plan to garden in Florida and I wondered why I never saw anyone growing tomatoes. In San Diego people grow tomatoes year round it seems.

    February 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

  3. The reason you may have experienced the frost is due to the distance from the forecast station. I live a few miles and a few feet higher in elevation from our local forecast station, so there is a 5-7 degree temperature differnce. Also, if there is cloud cover or wind they can alter the temperature as well. I find it is never overkill to prepare when the tmeperature is under 40 for the potential of frost. usually just setting plants out of the cold air is sufficient protection.

    February 19, 2013 at 11:25 am

    • Thanks for your input Joe. I think I’m going to take up your “under 40” habit. Better safe than sorry.


      February 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm

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