Frost Means Freedom

To many gardeners, "frost" is a four-letter word, even in the fall of the year.

Merely hinting that there is a chance of frost or whispering "frost" sends some gardeners scrambling to cover their gardens and pull in those plants that won't tolerate the cold. A few gardeners even automatically commence with wailing and lamentations when frost is mentioned, without thinking through what frost really means in the fall.

Frost in the fall means freedom.

Freedom to start fall garden clean up with a clear conscience. After the first frost, you can cut back, pull out, and put away knowing you gave the garden its full season.

But when the frost is late, what do you do?

Are you going to just sit and wait for that first frost? You probably think you should sit and wait until the first frost. That's the noble thing to do, right? Enjoy the garden some more. Sit in the garden and relax even though the plants are looking a wee bit tired and you are ready to get on with the fall garden cleanup.

It's okay to admit it. You want there to be frost on the "punkin".

It's perfectly fine and natural to want there to be frost so the signal is clear that the growing season is over and it's time to start preparing the garden for winter. The frost frees you up to do all your garden clean up without thinking you cheated and started cleaning it up too soon. Frost is like a magical eraser, ready to wipe the garden clean. The season is over. Time to move on.

But without a frost, or any prediction of one to come at a time when you would normally expect frost, well, it's confusing. Should you clean up anyway?  Should you be the one jumping the gun? Are you going to be the party pooper instead of letting frost end the party?

Yes, you are. You are going to call the season over and start the garden clean up, even without the frost. It's perfectly fine to do so. You don't need frost's permission to cut back those peonies and pull out those awful looking tomato plants.

I grant you permission.

Just don't step on the fall blooming crocuses while you are out there cleaning up.


Sometimes, not often but sometimes, I wish we had an end to our gardening season here in Zone 9b. Instead the frost warnings mean it is time to cover things because it is only a few days that we need to protect things.
Katie E-P said…
I need to pull up my peanuts! Frost or no frost! It's time.
Cindy, MCOK said…
Many years, I'm in the same situation as Leslie: winter is mild enough that there's still plenty of work for me to do. Sometimes I think I would enjoy a winter like you have in Indiana!
I am ready for a good frost. My indoor plants that are outside are not ready. I am looking forward to freedom.
Dee Nash said…
I really love the first frost. Usually, there are a few more days afterward to enjoy the garden more. Sweet post my friend. I don't clean up my garden much though until spring. I let things mostly go. ~~Dee
Karen said…
Well, I have "freedom" now as we had 19 degrees the other night (NE) and I have black slime plants everywhere that need cleaned up! It is satisfying to put the beds "to bed" though. But then there are still bulbs to plant…A couple of months off and it's time to start planning the best garden ever (next year's)!
Linnae said…
I love gardening, but I'm usually ready for a break by fall. I cut my frost bouquets, bring in the last of the green tomatoes, and stop watering my flowerpots. This year, though, I have been working like crazy, trying to get some flowerbeds ready for the 13 peonies and several hundred bulbs I have coming in the mail sometime soon. So I guess my true freedom will come after I get everything planted! Maybe when the snow flies that will be my sign!
Denise said…
I hate to cut back green plants, but I know I will be S-O-O-L if I wait for frost. Supposed to be in the 70's this weekend. My goal is one bag of cuttings a day.
Covegirl said…
I do not like the end of the gardening season. I wish it would go on and on.
Mary said…
This is exactly how I've been feeling! Every time I think about pulling up the tomato plants, I begin feeling guilty that I'm not taking advantage of every day of this growing season. And it was so nice yesterday to just go out and snip basil from the garden. Oh, well. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow and Saturday so I guess I'll start at least bringing in the herbs.
Gingham Gardens said…
Yes, thank you, for giving your permission! I'm tired and ready. We had a light frost earlier in the week, but it did nothing to my annuals, so I was a party pooper and started pulling some out yesterday. I did take pictures one last time, so I hope your going to have a GBBD on the 15th.
MissPat said…
Oops, I didn't know I needed permission. I've already started. And I'm even giving some less than stellar-performing plants the boot. Right now I'd rather be quilting.
RobinL said…
But that freedom comes at the expense of my zinnias! I just can’t let them go yet. Wail! Lamentations!
Unknown said…
It was nice meeting you at the Greenwood Public Library.