Olympia farmers prepare for unseasonably cold temperatures and frost

OLYMPIA – A frost advisory was reported for cities in Washington’s Southwest interior, including Olympia, Lacey and Chehalis. The advisory was slated to go into effect Tuesday at midnight through 8 a.m. The advisory also stated the frost could kill sensitive outdoor vegetation if left uncovered.

Farmers from GRuB, a community garden in Olympia, said they were prepared for the chilly temperatures.

“We plan, plan, plan all year long and then plans change, you know? And we just have to be flexible and adapt,” said Beau Gromley, leading farmer for GRuB.

Gromley said their farm did not see any damage to their produce from Sunday night’s frost because they started planning sooner for cooler weather. This was an adjustment for them after last year’s snowstorms.

“It’s really planning for that first frost and planning for fall months in advance and every year you just refine that a little bit more,” said Gromley. “We’re dealing with four seasons here now. It’s not just spring, summer, fall and then back to spring again.”

GRuB farmers planted plenty of buckwheat around their produce. The buckwheat was used as a cover crop to help block the frost and snow. Gromley said farmers also planted vegetables and plants that could tolerate the cold weather conditions.

Some of GRuB’s greenhouses needed repairs after damages from last year’s wet and heavy snowstorms. Gromley said they had to fix the structures to better protect their produce this winter.

“No one around here is really ready for snow. Whether it’s a soggy two inches of snow or a dry foot and a half of snow, all these structures we’ve had to either shore up, rebuild, fix,” said Gromley. “Just really insulating the crops that we want to save in-ground and just kind of looking at re-looking at our structures and how we need to change things in order to make it through that season.”

Gromley suggested not putting plastic directly on plants for the people who wanted to protect their plants from frost. Gromley said the condensation from the plastic would ruin the vegetation. He advised people to put down blankets or sheets first.