Jack Frost visited Kingston Hill in the still hours of Saturday morning (October 13th, right around “average” first frost). It was just cold enough to end the display of dahlias, and kill off the marigolds and peppers left in the All- America Selections garden. The tropical garden up between the greenhouses is still alive and well, being in a very protected spot. But come and see it soon, because it won’t last much longer! The tropicals will need to be dug up and brought inside for the winter. Chore of the day is to continue the cutting back and cleaning up we began last week.
Being a gardener means always having an eye on the weather. I’ve been intrigued this week with two documents shared by Carl Sawyer of the URI Agronomy Farm and Weather Station. (Kingston has been reporting temperatures to the National Weather Service since 1888 or so!) One is the first and last frost dates and number of frost free days in Kingston from 1931 to 2011. The highest number of frost free days on the list occurred in 1955 at 188 days. The lowest was in 1991 at 116 days due to a very late last frost — May 29th. A bad day for growers, as a late frost is so much more damaging than an early one.
The other is a 1948 Ag Experiment Station bulletin showing the average growing season for different parts of the state. Kingston is clearly a cold spot, showing at that time a 136 day average growing season. East Farm, also in Kingston but at the top of the hill, shows a 167 average day growing season. The “micro climate” makes a big difference. (Update: temperature Saturday morning was 25 F “down” at Agronomy and 29 F “up” at the greenhouse.)
On our weekend trip to upstate New York to visit our college freshman, glorious autumn leaves were everywhere, about a week ahead of us here on the coast. The weather forecast is for a mostly sunny and mild week, a great time to get out and enjoy the changing seasons.