Night frost killed seedlings in sealed jug?

emcd124(5)April 22, 2013

Last year with the early heat and then freezing, the only thing I worried about was making sure my jugs of tomatoes were closed rather than open over night if there was a frost predicted. So long as they were in the closed jugs, the seedlings laughed in the face of frosts, seeming to be unscathed. So this year the only jug with sprouts already was my chocolate cherry tomatoes, which had lots of sprouts but no true leaves yet. Two nights ago we got an overnight frost, and when I checked them the next morning, instead of green, they were tinged with black/purple and slightly shriveled. I waited hoping the sunny day would warm them back to health, but now two days later they still look runty and sad.

Is this common that a frost will kill seedlings inside a closed milk jug? Or is it possible chocolate cherry is just more sensitive? I assumed that since it had sprouted despite the cool temps when nothing else had, that it was perhaps more cold tolerant, but now I'm just not sure.

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I'll let someone else answer, as I don't do tomatoes. altho to me it seems early for toms, but you had success with other varieties.

I just want to say I'm sorry you lost these.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 3:18PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Sorry to hear about your tomato sprouts, but it's not too late to sow more, or maybe there are still some seeds left to sprout in the jug?

You would think the milk jug would protect them from frost, but perhaps not if it gets cold enough and the frost penetrates the jug. The 'Purple Cherokee' tomatoes that I sowed for the WS experiment were in a 2 LTR bottle - they sprouted pretty early and haven't been killed by frost, so perhaps the 2 LTR offers more protection.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 7:24PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

We got a frost two nights ago and I forgot to cover my jugs. I was worried about my tomatoes, but they look the same as they did before -- no true leaves yet, but they're still there. Most of mine look runty anyway, maybe because it hasn't been that warm yet.

Even the petunias, which I started inside and put out two weeks ago, came through the frost unscathed. I'm a bit surprised by how hardy petunias have turned out to be. The ones in my jug are still very small, but the ones sown inside have been flowering for weeks, and I cut them back once over the winter. They all came from collected seed that I sprinkled over a pot in the window just to see if the seed was viable. Boy was it ever.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 7:33AM
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I believe quite a few of us got hit with that frost. My sprouts came thru, but my azalea bush, and allium bulbs got set back. Unfortunately, there will be more frosts to come in my zone.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:39PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I think whether or not a frost kills seedlings depends on how 'tropical' the plants are. I had a similar experience last year. I grew bunny tail grass and purple love grass and we had an early spring and then a frost in late April. The bunny tails survived, but the love grass was just a brown mess, and both were in 2-litre covered containers. Perhaps your jugs were too exposed to deal with the frost. My purple love grass never recovered.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 2:47AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Ladyrose, I hope you're wrong about more frosts. :) The 10-day here looks like the night temps are heading into the high 40s and 50s (fingers crossed). IIRC you're in southern jersey and not that far from me so you should be warming up soon, too. I'm so ready for the growing season to get going. Some of my lettuce is taking off since being planted out, but I noticed one of the swiss chards was decapitated -- maybe the bunny was sampling already, but if it was it left everything else alone so maybe it was something else.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 6:55AM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

caryltoo, I wouldn't go by the 10-day forecast. When's your last average frost date (50% chance of frost)? When's the 90% frost date? You can find out from various sources if you don't have these dates already. Cooperative Extension office, Farmer's Almanac, etc.

It was 84 degrees here today and the 10-day looks nice, all night temps over 40. My average last frost is May 15, and the 90% is May 24. So I'm still on "frost watch" until the end of May.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 9:49PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Last frost, best as I can find out, is May 15, but it's unusual to get one that late. It's happened once in the last 20 years if i recall correctly. I'm planting out now and not really w orried about it. my plants have all survived at least one frost already -- to me that's the great thing about ws.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:59PM
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Tomatoes are the main seeds I plant for winter sowing. Mostly those types of tomato plants cant get in my area. When three sets of cold and warn spells seems your WS tomato seeds will come up. After they sprout suggest you keep them free of frost unless you like to see if any others come up later. How to do that is several things but normally I would put my jugs in milk crates or boxes so they could be picked up each night and put in a unheated garage/hay trailer/barn choose what you have available. Or toss a heavy towel or blanket over those jugs to keep the frost off the plants. I had lots of success with a ring of jugs filled with water and a towel thrown over to cover them and the seedlings in the ground. They are very cold hardy but freezing frost will do your tomato seedlings in. Frost hits the hardest on clear nights no wind. Any questions please feel free to ask


    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:21AM
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