Winnie the Pooh was quick to point out that an empty pot can be quite useful. It may be only one or two days a year that it is useful, but it can make or break a gardener who has spent weeks nurturing seedlings or hours planting out their tender crops. Like I mentioned, sometimes it just makes sense to plant when the spring weather is warm for a while. But one must be prepared for that potential late frost.
Fortunately, such a frost is usually barely a frost. That is, all that has to be done is to keep a little layer of warmth between the plants and the coldest night air. As such, there are quite a number of options for what can be used. What matters the most is whether or not it fits over the plant without causing damage.
When we were faced with a potential frost this week, my husband helped me round up a variety of other containers after we had used up all of my altered milk jugs. We used gallon nursery pots, which are not a true gallon, over some medium sized peppers and basil. Smaller 3-4 inch pots were a good fit for the smaller peppers. Even though they have some holes in the bottom-which-becomes-the-top, it is enough to trap some warm afternoon air and repel most frost.
Of course, we used my blankets over the support cages, because they were available. We also used quite a few 3-4 cup yogurt and sour cream containers. (see top photo) Sometimes, they were tipped a touch because of a soaker hose, but, again, with a light frost this is not an issue. We actually did use quite a few 1 gallon empty plastic honey pots and mayonnaise containers. These were truly a gallon.
The more I thought about what could be used, the more everything I saw had potential. A lime green household wash bucket was put over one pepper, and an old laundry detergent bucket protected a cape daisy. My husband had a few containers from mixing odd cement potions in his workshop that I just had to shake some dust out of.
Finally, I had a couple of peppers that were too tall for anything I had left. We had used the few extra large nursery pots already on other plants. Dear husband came up with the idea of putting a stick in the ground next to the plant and setting the container on that, sort of like a full-coverage umbrella.
The moral of this story is that even though it is not likely there will be another frost this year, it might be time to save some containers while it is fresh on the mind. Find a place out of the way, where you won’t be tempted to throw them away. One day next spring you may be scrambling for useful containers to cover your seedlings and you will be glad you packed them away!