The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Frost and edible garden update


Photo: Sprout top

Photo: Sprout top

“It’s going to be the hardest frost so far this year.” My Mum advised.
“But we haven’t had a frost yet.”
“You will tonight then.”

I scuttled down to the green house to check the bubble wrap insulation was still in place. The bubble wrap conserves up to 30% of heat loss through the glass so I decided to take a chance and not light the paraffin heater. This was mainly because I haven’t had time to test out the handsome beast that I bought at the church fete. But I found the min/max thermometer in Danny’s shed – I’d left it there when a heat wave in May ruined a new batch of homemade salami. This would tell me how cold the greenhouse got overnight.

I’ve just popped down to let the chickens out and the greenhouse thermometer reported that the temperature in there didn’t go below zero. Phew. But I better set up the heater today just in case.

Recently I spotted a really nifty wireless greenhouse thermometer enabling you to monitor the temperature in the greenhouse without stepping out of the house. Unfortunately our greenhouse is right at the bottom of the garden and far outside the 25 meter range. But then I spotted this natty little budget weather station that could be attached to one of the gateposts in the old kitchen garden. We have a rain gauge which we find very useful but this little fellow gives the temperature and wind speeds too. Danny would adore this.  

I spent a few minutes pottering in the kitchen garden. The recent rain has made the grass paths very soggy so it was good to feel the firm frosted grass under my wellies. A frost makes everything look so pretty in the kitchen garden. At last we’ll be able to find out whether frosted brassicas taste better. Including the bitter Black Tuscany kale  – will it taste more like a vegetable than beaten out razor blades?

I had a peek under the frosted homemade cloches – the fleece was quite stiff. The baby pea plants were standing up as normal. I’m amazed that the fleece can protect such young shoots.

My gardening magazine tells me that now is the time to net against the greedy pigeons. So that will be the job for the next few days. I traded some work for a fifty meter roll of galvanised chicken netting early this summer and it has proved to be a great investment. Cut into lengths it can be shaped to protect all sizes of vegetables and also keeps the Min Pins off the beds.

So I tramped back to the kitchen with a happy heart – our edible garden is flourishing and it’s the first of December.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    That lake sounds a bit of nightmare. I envy you your hot summers but not your frozen winters. I’m going to pop over to your blog to see how the poly tunnel is progressing.

    Hello Veronica


    Hi Sebbie

    That sometimes happens to Jalopy – usually when the defrost spray is inside the car!

    Hi Allotment Blogger

    We’ve had problems here with white fly too. Hop the frost killed them off.

    This is my first year of growing parsnips so I’m a parsnip virgin. I know that a frost turns the starch into sugar but I’m uncertain how long it takes.

    I’m leaving mine in the ground to lift when needed.

  2. Allotment blogger

    We had our first frost too, and I was so looking forward to it, because of the whitefly that have been annoying us non-stop until now. I’m off to the plot in an hour, but I’m wondering how long it takes for frost to sweeten parsnips – it must be a chemical reaction in the root, so does it happen instantly or take a couple of days – any ideas?

  3. It was so cold here (NE England) this morning that it took me 15 minutes to actually get into my car. The doors (not the locks) were frozen solid!


  4. Veronica

    sorry Fiona, I just had to giggle: you cover your beds with chicken wire?? It must be really uncomfortable!

  5. Soggy paths! Tell me about it :oD. Good news is that our lake that was creeping across the road was dealt with by the local highway department (or whoever deals with that sort of thing) and our lake is now receding away from the road. Phew! Hope we don’t get a bill for it.

    We are expecting frosts again this week and down to -7C in about ten days. Those outdoor thermometers are great, Ian wouldn’t be without one.

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