MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mary Ann Crolley is like many Twin Cities gardeners trying to beat the potential first freeze Wednesday night.

She spent the day cutting some flowers and harvesting some vegetables.

“I’m not ripping stuff out,” she said. “Because last year I did that and we had a nice Indian summer, and I had nothing left to grow.”

She’ll throw a blanket over her plants Wednesday night, but said she doesn’t like where this is heading.

“I’m in winter dread,” Crolley said. “It’s heartbreaking. I know the fall is beautiful, but I know what’s coming next. It’s so bittersweet.”

Hearty plants like cabbage and kale, and flowers like zinnias will survive a bit of frost, but you may need to cover tomatoes, basil and flower boxes.

Julie Weisenhorn, the state director of the master gardener program at the University of Minnesota, said you can use any kind of cloth, blanket and even a quilt. But avoid plastic.

The best way to treat some perennials, like shrubs and evergreens, is keep watering them.

“You want to be sure that you water those plants really, really well,” Weisenhorn said. “Up to the point when you can’t water them anymore, until the ground is frozen.”

And what about those green tomatoes?

“If you have hard, green tomatoes now, chances are you’re going to be looking for recipes for hard, green tomato salsa, chutney and fried green tomatoes,” she said. “They’re probably not going to ripen.”

Tomatoes that have started to ripen will finish the process indoors. There’s even better news for apple lovers. This cold weather will make them even tastier.

“They actually will sweeten up,” Weisenhorn said. “The sugars will concentrate on the fruit, and that will just make a better fruit in the end.”

For more tips on how to prepare your garden for cold weather, check out Weisenhorn’s blog.


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