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.