Frost damaged strawberries

Strawberry Flower Frost Damage

All was going pretty well in the strawberry patch… until the frosts hit. A bitter easterly wind knocked around Bedfordshire throughout the week, and after one particularly chilly night, we awoke to a significant ground frost.

Ground frosts have been few and far between over the last couple of winters, and although April also had some exceptionally warm days, I should have known better than to be lulled into a false sense of security. Despite my neighbours wrapping their espalier trees in yards and yards of cost fleece, I paid little attention to the sky, the wind, and the weather forecasts, and took absolutely no action in protecting my plants.

Needless to say, we’ve lost a number of strawberry flowers with their burgeoning fruits. The black centres in the image below showcases my disastrous start to the growing season. Where the blank, black eye sits, there should be a sunny yellow centre, which will ultimately bear the jewel-like red fruits as the days lengthen into the heady heat-filled haze of summer.

I’ve had to pinch out the damaged flowers, and luckily the undamaged blooms have started appearing. Fingers crossed that we’ll have a decent harvest for my little strawberry patch this year.

Strawberry flower black frost damage

My strawberries weren’t the only victims of the snap frost. Two nasturtiums and five bean plants that I’d hastily planted out under the blazing azure skies during an earlier mini heatwave were also reduced to limp, frost-burned specimens. Thankfully, I have plenty more of each plant waiting in the wings, protected in the greenhouse. Back-ups. Lesson: always have a contingency. (And keep an eye on the weather forecast).

By some stroke of luck, only one of my recently-planted Valentina raspberry canes seem to have endured any kind of frost damage. Whether the cane recovers, we’ll have to wait and see.

There’s an adage floating around that tender plants shouldn’t be planted out until after the Chelsea Flower Show. I suppose this is generally when most gardens in the UK are safe from frosts, but after a sunny weekend, and whilst bombarded with images on social media of what everyone else has potted up and planted out, it’s all too easy to be swept up in this non-existent race to grow, grow, grow. I should know by now that slow and steady is the way to go.

Of course, it’s also worth adding that had I got my rear end in gear and got my polytunnel up in the last three years, I might have been writing about a completely different picture entirely. Slowly, slowly… ?