Chard in the frost

We had the first proper frost here in Suffolk this week and it took me by surprise  Only the day before I was planting out some broad bean plants and taking cuttings from a rescued houseplant in my polytunnel. It’s one of those small ones by Gardman but it serves me well.

So, after scrolling through an instagram feed full of ‘first frost’ pictures I headed out myself to check on my poor, unsuspecting plants – and to take photos!

The sweet peas, which I had put out of the polytunnel, to harden off, ha ha, seemed to be fine and the cuttings inside were luckily in the propagator and also ok I think. They will need to be relocated to a windowsill very soon.


At my first garden, in the still open greenhouse plants still looking green. Sorrel seedlings, ✅, Salad leaves in the greenhouse bed, ✅.

The broad beans, which I planted in September also nice and perky.


What I am really hoping is that the caterpillars, which have decimated the cavalo for the second time this year, are not ok!



Some dahlias are still flowering.

Moving on to the borders, it seemed a good time to lift the dahlias and tuck them up for the winter. They are now all in the greenhouse beds where the tomatoes were. The greenhouse is on the side of a brick building and I think that this makes a difference in keeping the soil above freezing. The bricks heat up in the day time, even with a small amount of sunshine, and radiate it back at night like a storage heater. I also keep the soil completely dry. This has worked well the last few years although we haven’t had any prolonged cold weather for some years now.


Dahlias in their winter bed (I will cut them down).

This is really a bit of a luxury. At my next garden I dug up the tubers, cut them right back and put them in a large pot filled with old compost from empty summer pots. They are now in the shed although if it gets really cold, below zero for several days, I will move them to the garage. Obviously there were a lot less tubers just 3 plants.

My dahlias at home are mostly still outside and will have to take their chances until I have time to sort them out. I have a few more this year and am considering borrowing a bit of greenhouse space from the first customer.