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Freeze Warnings

March 2013:

We had an unexpected freeze warning for last weekend. When I saw the weather report mid-week I immediately ordered a tabletop greenhouse from Amazon. It’s meant for classrooms but it works well as a small patio greenhouse also. The greenhouse took just a few minutes to assemble and it fit perfectly on the patio table.

Because the blueberry plants are so tall, I replaced the full top rack with a wire baking rack to modify it into a half shelf. I put the tomato plant on the half shelf and put both banana trees, the jalapeno seedlings, and both blueberry plants on the bottom shelf.

Friday evening, as the weather began to cool down, I zipped up the greenhouse, feeling confident that all the plants would be safe from the colder weather.

Unfortunately, Sunday night the weather went down into the high 20s for several hours. I still assumed all was well within the little greenhouse and all the plants appeared to be doing fine when I checked on them Monday morning. The Sharpblue blueberry even had several flowers!

By the afternoon, however, several plants were wilting. The worse was the tomato plant. The jalapenos looked limp also as did the Abundant blueberry. By Tuesday morning the tomato plant’s leaves had all wilted, the Abundant blueberry was dropping leaves and others were wilted, and some leaves on the Sharpblue blueberry were dropping. The jalapenos weren’t looking well and it appeared the Little Prince banana had some damage from the cold.

My enthusiasm may have been the death of my tomato plant and perhaps a couple other more fragile plants. A Google search confirmed my fears: tomatoes don’t do well at temperatures lower than 40 degrees. According to Gardeners’ World, ideal tomato growing temperatures are between 64 and 75 degrees F, and no lower than 55 degrees F. Even in Central Florida it’s still below 55 degrees F at night.

Commercial growers have proper facilities to keep temperatures at the correct levels year round. My little greenhouse didn’t provide enough cold protection and the plant may not survive. The tomato plant should have been inside for the weekend.

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