Some areas of the region may see the first frost of the season tonight, and for others it will not be far behind. The average first fall frost usually occurs the first week of November in Burgaw and inland areas including Wallace, Currie, and Shallotte. Coastal communities (Hampstead, Wilmington, Southport) still have a few weeks - the first frost along the coast most often occurs during the third week of November due to the moderating effect of ocean waters.
If frost is predicted for your community, make a final harvest of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, beans, field peas, okra, and sweet potatoes before freezing temperatures damages or kills plants and fruits.
To make the most of this late season bounty, store crops under proper conditions. Most summer crops store best at 55 degrees in perforated plastic bags and will last up to a week under these conditions (peppers will last longer). Storing near apples and tomatoes (which release ethylene) will reduce shelf life.
Green tomatoes, harvested before frost, can be wrapped in newspaper and kept at 55 F to 70 F. Tomatoes stored in this manner should last 3-5 weeks. Be sure to inspect each week for ripeness.
Following harvest, sweet potatoes should be ‘cured’ by placing them in a moist, warm (80-85 degrees) location for a week to 10 days. Once cured, store them for winter in a dark, cool location (55 degrees) where they will not freeze.
- Harvesting vegetables, from Cornell Extension:http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/vegetables/harvestguide.pdf
- Storing vegetables, from Minnesota Extension: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1424.html
- Use Extension Search to find research based information from Cooperative Extension systems across the U.S.