As Fall approaches so does the chance of frost. Protecting your tomatoes from early frost is a simple process if you use fabric row cover.
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This week’s 5-Minute Friday video is on protecting your tomatoes from early frost. Check out this weeks video below:
An Early Frost is Coming!
It happens to us almost every year. Right towards the end of September or early October, we will have a short cold spell. Unfortunately that means frost kills most of our warm-season veggies. Tomatoes, beans, melons, and squash all usually die due to this early frost. Then things warm up and we will have a couple more weeks of nice weather before the real cold starts to settle in.
It’s can be frustrating to see a ruined garden when the temperatures are back in the ’70s. So we try to do all we can to protect our tomatoes and other warm-season crops from early frost.
Protecting Your Tomatoes from Frost is Easy
Protecting your tomatoes from early frost is really pretty easy if you use a heavy fabric row cover. Simply cover your tomato plants with these fantastic frost blankets and they should be able to hold out against some of the early cold nights of the fall.
Heavy fabric row covers will protect your crops from cold frosty nights between 28° to 35° Fahrenheit (-2.2° to 1.6° Celsius). They are not perfect and if temperatures get much below 30° F (-1.11° C) there is still a pretty big risk that you will lose your tomato plants. However, fabric row cover will really do a great job protecting your crops for those first few frosty nights of the season.
Protect Your Tomatoes Before the Sun Goes Down!
If cold evening temperatures are in your forecast, get out before the sun goes down and cover up your plants. I use a clamp or clothespins to secure the frost blanket against winds. The next day once the sun is up and the frost has melted take your frost blankets off so that your plants can still get plenty of sun.
If you can’t find heavy fabric row cover locally it is available online as well. Just follow this affiliate link to Amazon where you can buy it at a good price! Heavy Fabric Row Cover
What is the Lowest Temperature Tomato Plants Can Tolerate?
Tomato plants can survive temperatures as low as 33 degrees, but they cannot handle a freeze or frost. Freezing temperatures will kill your tomato plants right away! In fact, once you start to see night-time temperatures consistently below 50 degrees you will start to see problems with your tomato plants. Tomatoes love warmth, so they start to shut down with cooler temperatures.
Can Tomato Plants Survive Frost?
No! Both tomato plants and fruit will NOT survive a night with frost. Frost will kill the plants and cause the fruit to quickly rot. You must protect tomato plants from frost with a fabric row cover. If you don’t have one then you should pick all of your fruit and bring them inside to ripen before the frost arrives.
At What Temperature Should You Cover Tomato Plants?
Technically tomatoes will survive with temperatures as low as 33° F (0.5° Celsius). But everyone has such a broad range of microclimates that I advise that any time you see a weather forecast with temperatures below 40° Fahrenheit (4.5° Celsius) that you cover your tomato plants, just to be safe!
How Much Will Fabric Row Covers Protect Your Tomato Plants?
Fabric row covers are great at fending off light frosts, but if your temperatures are going to drop below 28° Fahrenheit (-2.2° Celsius) then I would not rely on even heavy fabric row covers to protect your tomato plants. Instead, I would just call it a season and bring in as many of the tomatoes on your plants as you can and let them ripen indoors!