One morning in early April, it was already getting frosty when I went out to check on the garden at 12:30. No, I don’t normally go outside at that hour, but it was so cold that I was checking for frost to try to protect the tomatoes. I turned the pump on to try to keep the frost off them. When I went out at 6:30 to look, the entire garden was encased in ice! By 8:00, when I turned the water off as the sun came up, the ice was about 1/8 inch (2-3 mm) thick on all the tomato and pumpkin leaves! The little boys had fun going out and carefully taking the ice off a big leaf and bringing it in to show me. They put several of those crystal leaves in the freezer to show Daddy when he got home. I figured that was the end of the tomatoes, zucchini, and pumpkins.
That afternoon, I went out to the garden again. I was very surprised at what I saw! The next two pictures are the garden that I watered, which was encased in ice. The plants had not been hurt at all!
This picture shows the pumpkins in the next garden, across a narrow walkway. They were not protected with water, and were killed! I knew there was some sort of science behind that, so I looked it up. Apparently, as the water freezes into ice, it releases a tiny amount of heat, which keeps the plant above freezing temperature as long as the ice stays wet. If it gets dry, for example if a breeze springs up, the plant will be damaged badly. You have to keep the water running till the sun comes up, to prevent damage. It was very interesting to see this in action!
I harvested about half our pumpkins that afternoon. My three littlest had fun helping me haul them around and wash them. Then, they ran across them!