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Nursery offers tips on prepping gardens for frosty Montana mornings

Posted at 9:26 AM, Sep 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 11:26:15-04

HELENA – Some people around the Helena Valley saw frost on their windshields Friday morning. It was a reminder for gardeners that cold weather is coming.

Dennis Flynn, the owner of Valley Farms, said this first frost wasn’t very heavy or damaging. He said the worst frost will likely start later this month.

“Typically what you look for is a clear night, when the stars twinkle,” he said. “That’s a clear sign that you’re going to have a really cold morning.”

He said people with vegetable plants can often protect them from a light frost by using a commercial cold cover – or even a wet bedsheet. Covering the plants can help maintain the humidity a plant needs to survive.

But there’s a limited amount of time the covers can keep a plant alive. Once the temperature gets below the mid-20s, Flynn said there’s little a grower can do.

If you are trying to preserve a plant for a few more weeks, Flynn said it’s important to keep an eye on the weather conditions. He recommends having a cover ready as soon as overnight temperatures start dropping into the mid-30s.

“Then any evening that’s clear, or if it’s predicting it’s going to get clear overnight, I’d definitely just be on the safe side and go ahead and cover them,” he said.

He said it’s generally not harmful to cover a plant overnight, but that gardeners should remove the covers as soon as possible in the morning, so they don’t build up excessive heat.

While frosts can be challenging for local gardeners, Flynn said fall is actually an ideal time for planting. Many plants go into a more dormant period, so it’s easier for them to survive once they’re in the ground.

Story by Jonathon Ambarian, MTN News