Post #G21-057: First frost, fall garden fail, COVID winter prep

Posted on November 2, 2021


Depending on exactly which forecast you believe, we should have our first frost in Vienna VA sometime in the next few days, possibly as early as tonight.  The National Weather Service is showing lows of 33F for the next few nights at Dulles Airport.  Other forecasts show lows of 31F.

A first frost date in the next few days puts us more-or-less exactly on the recent upward trend line.  This is the National Weather Service data for Dulles, VA. for the past few decades.

Not unexpected.

At this point, I can evaluate my “fall garden” as more-or-less a complete failure.  In theory, you can plant crops late in the summer, for fall harvest.  In practice, as far as I can tell, plants grow so slowly in the reduced temperatures and sunlight of the fall (Post #055) that the harvest is hardly worth the effort.

Plants that were already well-established continued to produce at reduced levels.  E.g., I got a few more peppers off the pepper plants.  But the plants that I put in at the end of August have produced more-or-less nothing.  A few eggplant, a few lettuce leaves.  Not worth the bother.

In hindsight, I note that a lot of the sites that I referenced said that you can plant certain crops late in the year.  And that was true.  I planted them, and, in theory, I got them in before the days-to-maturity exceeded the likely first frost date.  I did, in fact, successfully grow them.

I think I’ve learned the difference between “can” and “should” in this case.  I can direct-sow crops in late summer for a fall harvest.  But I’m not convinced that I should.  This year, that seems to have been a near-total waste of time. Either I have to start my fall garden in the heat of late July, or start the plants indoors for planting outside in late August.  Or just skip it.

Finally, with first frost, we are now starting the season of low indoor relative humidity.  As I have noted in many prior posts, I think that low relative humidity increases the spread of respiratory illness.   I believe that national heating and cooling experts say the same:

As of today, there’s scant indication that there will be any resurgence of COVID-19 this winter.  That said, I’m sticking to the plan.  I have a couple of hygrometers placed around my home.  (Why not?  They’re cheap.)  When indoor relative humidity dips below 40 percent, I’m going to drag my humidifiers out of the closet and get them running.  As with wearing a mask, or getting vaccinated, it’s just another harmless bit of cheap insurance against airborne illness.