Csi:Swampgarden - Jack Frost Strikes Again - Swampy's Kitchen Blog at Allrecipes.com - 286886

Swampy's Kitchen

CSI:swampgarden - Jack Frost Strikes Again 
Oct. 22, 2012 8:11 am 
Updated: Oct. 31, 2012 5:55 pm
It’s October and once again, there is a cold blooded serial killer in our midst. His icy touch knows no boundaries. He chillingly strikes at night when no one can see him coming. He leaves everyone dazzled by his handiwork in the morning. His cold heart doesn’t discriminate and he ruthlessly goes after everything in his path with a frigid resolve.

His name is Jack Frost and he’s wanted for the icy death of what was left of the swampgarden.

The call came in Saturday morning from CSI-Brad out in the hallway.

“Uh Dad, did it snow last night ?”

“No. It was supposed to get cold but there was no snow in the forecast. Why ?”

“Everything is white outside.”

Oh no, I thought to myself. The frost came early. I was supposed to have one more day to get everything out the swampgarden. I rolled out of bed and walked to the window. Even without my glasses I could see that that ground was white in the shadows. The sun, just starting to peek over the eastern trees made the western corners of the yard sparkle. I could see frost painted heavily on my pepper patch and my heart sunk. Even though I knew that this day would come, you always felt like you could somehow stop it.

“Come on Brad. Go get the rest of the team,” I said “We have work to do.”

CSI-Caty and CSI-Amity joined us as we rolled out to the crime scene with our equipment in hand. We had all been to crime scenes like this before but that didn’t mean that it never didn’t hurt. It was particularly cruel in late April when Jack Frost would strike before the young plants had a chance to grow but here at the end of the growing season, you want to see your old friends have a chance to go with dignity. Rather than have an icy dagger of death freeze their veins & wilt their leaves.

By the time we got out to the swampgarden, the frost had begun to melt away so the crime scene was wet mess. We cordoned off the area and started to check the scene for survivors. The beets & the peas were both still alive and a small head of purple cabbage was found under a wilted leaf of Rainbow Chard. The Rainbow Chard had gone down hard but it was not completely lost so the surviving stalks were harvested while the damaged stalks were tossed outside the garden to be eaten by the roving packs of scavenging deer that routinely infiltrate our yard. If there had been any tomatoes that were going to turn red, they were a ghastly green now. Jack’s real carnage was reserved for the pepper patch.

I approached the garden with fear & trepidation. Knowing what I was going to see made the scene no less brutal. Jack had left destruction in his wake. The light green Caribbean Red Hot’s would never turn red. The dark green habaneros would never turn a sunny orange. The yellow tabasco peppers would never be held up to a “baton rouge” for ripeness. The Jalapenos were ice cold in your hand and all of the peppers were squishy to the touch. The carnage made me turn away as a tear tried to form in my eye. The other CSI’s were processing the evidence too.

“Eww Daddy, look at this one.”

“Will it still be hot even though it’s cold ?”

“Can we throw these at the deer ?”

We slowly pulled all of the plants up by the roots and loaded them into the wagon. There was no need to conduct an autopsy. We all knew how these plants died and who was responsible. We had kept him from killing the blueberries & raspberries in the spring but there was nothing we could do to stop his chilling touch this time. Jack Frost was already gone and warmer weather was coming in on the wings of a wave of Robins that were flying south for the winter.

The file back in the office on Jack Frost is thick and his crimes against gardens all over the world are well known. One day he’ll slip up and we’ll catch him but I think Al Gore is going to have to leave his mansion door open first for that to happen. Until then, watch the forecasts for those cold nights ahead. If you don’t, Jack Frost will watch them for you.
Damaged Caribbean Red Hot's
Photo Detail
Damaged Tabasco Peppers
Photo Detail
Oct. 22, 2012 8:31 am
Ah man! Such brutality! It hard to see the end come so suddenly - at least it was quick, they probably didn't feel a thing - just went to sleep and didn't wake up. My condolences, Doug.
Oct. 22, 2012 8:35 am
Thanks BN - I'll always have the memories....(and some killer bags of roasted yellow tomatoes)
Oct. 22, 2012 8:42 am
Awww! Poor peppers! Glad you got to salvage a little bit... Sounds like "ghosting" the garden would not have helped this time...dern that hard Jack Frost....
Oct. 22, 2012 9:51 am
Hi Cindy - I did get quite a harvest this year but there was still so much that I had hoped to get. Jack is one heartless dude....
Oct. 22, 2012 10:21 am
Sorry to hear Doug. My weather site aka Wunderground is hinting at another cold spell starting next Saturday. Whatever survived needs help next weekend. if you want the link I will send it to you all.
Oct. 22, 2012 10:23 am
Hi Dog Fish - I use that link here at work when I am tracking hurricanes. We knew the frost was potentially coming but just didn't have the time needed to try and make the save this time.
Oct. 22, 2012 11:31 am
Serial Killer: Jack Frost, I hate him. I'm keeping my eye out.
Oct. 22, 2012 11:49 am
He's headed your way King - hope you are ready for him
Oct. 22, 2012 2:04 pm
So sorry for your loss, Doug. The killer showed up here in mid-September a full month before he was due, and he was not welcomed. Fortunately, we were able to move peppers to the greenhouse and to the garage (greenhouse would only hold 10 peppers, so our garage was full, too!) and save them at least for a while. They did get bitten a bit in the greenhouse on one particularly cold night, but we've managed to keep harvesting for the last month, albeit not what we still should have been getting. We managed to cobble together 7 1/2 pounds of the super-hots over the last 10 days or so and spent the weekend with the smoker loaded with peppers for pepper powder, sauce, and to freeze. What we have left now will be just a handful here and there. And we still had so many blooms on them. Sigh. No offense to our Canadian neighbors, but it sucks to live so close to Canada this time of year with the cold air coming down this way. I can't wait until we are back in the South for some year-round gardening with a greenhouse. I hope you enjoyed your harvest while it lasted. We took advantage of ours while we could; it's just never long enough, is it?
Oct. 22, 2012 4:04 pm
Oh Doug, so sad for you. I should have put out and APB, Jack was at my house a month or so ago. I had all my peppers moved to witness protection in the house when he arrived. He did a number on my rose bush but I think she will survive. There is a feeling in the air when he enters our area, but in the past he had caught me unaware with my perverbial :) garden apron down. Sort of blackens your green thumb in the blink of an eye. Grieve as long as you need, then look through seed catalogues to bring new life to your soil next spring.
Oct. 22, 2012 6:24 pm
I know your pain. We had a massive wind storm in September that ruined about everything by pelting it with salt laden sand. The only thing I was able to salvage was my basil plant. I was so sad too.
Oct. 23, 2012 7:27 am
Jack Frost won't get anything in the garden here-mainly because I didn't plant a garden. However, my beautifully arranged flower pots took a drive by hit from old Jack. I loved your blog- I love the humor that intertwines throughout your blog and the use of anthropomorphism is stellar!
Oct. 23, 2012 11:42 am
Hi wisweetp - your pepper garden just sounds amazing. I can only think of one summer where I had production like you described. And I definitely agree, the growing season is never long enough but I will make do until next spring. Jack will have to work harder to get me next year.
Oct. 23, 2012 11:47 am
Hi rng - I knew Jack was in the area but I didn't get home in time to do anything about. Glad to hear he didn't get you like he got me. And yep, I'm already plotting & planning my garden for next year.
Oct. 23, 2012 12:04 pm
Ouch BigShotsMom - salt laden sand sounds terrible - I would lose it if that happened in my garden. Glad your basil survived.
Oct. 23, 2012 12:08 pm
Hi Lela - Driveby's on flowers are just so wrong. Jack needs to be slapped for that. I'm in Denver today and I hear there is snow in the forecast for after I leave. And thanks for your kind words. I hope my head can get through the plane door.
Oct. 23, 2012 12:32 pm
Doug, I'm totally anal about my plants. They get "food" specifically designed for whatever type of plant they are, they get a certain kind of soil with organic matter mixed in, and I do talk to them all the time. : ) So my tomatoes and peppers usually do great every year. We canned 60-something pints of salsa, a few quarts of fire-roasted tomatoes, made homemade ketchup, and made more pepper sauces and powders than I can even start to count! Yet at the end of the season, I'm looking back and thinking, "is that it?". Just too short. I love to garden, and I miss it terribly during the off-season. Jack better be prepared for battle here next year! I'm getting more greenhouses and a couple of heaters for them, too! He can bring it on!
Oct. 23, 2012 12:38 pm
Oh, that JF! He is so slippery, who can match his wit? Just when you think you have him in your clutches, he pulls something like this. Does he have inside information? Watch your back Doug!
Oct. 23, 2012 12:44 pm
I need to come out and get some gardening lessons from you wisweetp - then I could also try and smuggle some of that salsa back to NJ too. I really am impressed (and jealous).
Oct. 23, 2012 12:49 pm
Hi ibbz - you can touch him when he's there but then he just melts away in your hands and he might even nip your nose while he's at it. One of these days, one of these days.....
Oct. 23, 2012 12:52 pm
Jack claimed the basil 10 days ago. I cried. . .
Oct. 23, 2012 1:21 pm
Jack got to my herb garden last week,my vegatable garden is pretty well done also,except for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!zucchini.why didn't he get those?
Oct. 23, 2012 1:22 pm
Forgot to add love your story Doug.
Oct. 23, 2012 1:42 pm
Hi AllieGeekPi - my wife is italian so I know the pain of losing your basil. When a groundhog ate my wife's basil a few years ago, she went all Soprano's on me and wanted him whacked. Now that I think about it, think we can get Jack whacked ?
Oct. 23, 2012 1:46 pm
Hi manella & thanks - so even Jack Frost doesn't want spare zucchini ? That actually does surprise me. Of course Squash Borers got to my zucchini well before Jack got a shot at them.
Oct. 23, 2012 2:13 pm
Hey Doug i know your wifes pain over her basil,i'm Italian also,love my rosemary to.
Oct. 23, 2012 2:13 pm
I'm familiar with Frost's M.O. I have followed his trail from Kentucky to Texas! Even though his operations are limited here, he can still strike fear in our hearts and cause our blood to run cold. Chilling, what that guy can do, when we least expect it! Sorry for your loss, Doug!
Oct. 23, 2012 4:51 pm
I'm not a gardener; I didn't know that covering the basil wouldn't work. I covered the plants and they died and I was so upset. I should have clipped them and put them in a vase-- then I would have outsmart jack! Next year jack! Next year look out!
Oct. 24, 2012 6:52 am
That's Jacked Up. I'd go green house on him.
Oct. 24, 2012 4:21 pm
Thanks Bibi - that Jack must be pretty ornery when he gets all the way down your way. Maybe we can get Walker Texas Ranger to take him out.
Oct. 24, 2012 4:22 pm
We all live & learn AllieGeekPi - good luck next year
Oct. 24, 2012 4:23 pm
Ladies & Gentlemen, don't forget to tip your waitress & try the veal - bd.weld will be here all week....
Oct. 24, 2012 8:16 pm
Doug, coming from a "northerner" that has lived his life in Canada, where early frosts are a likelihood, my thought is that you must check weather network or the TV forecast...covering your plants with a simple old bedsheet or similar can protect them from the frost, likewise "watering" them with a spray in the morning can rescesustate them (plants are hardy little creatures that don't want to die!)(think of any 'weed') When in doubt, move em out! Your Tomato's and peppers will ripen in the house, given the chance
J. Dub 
Oct. 25, 2012 8:52 am
Doug, please please please tell me that you took your sunglasses out to the crime scene, said something over-the-top cheesy, then put your glasses on in super dramatic fashion. It just wouldn't be right if you didn't do that. I send my condolences. Jack picked off my basil already this year. He's a no-good, filthy, rotten...well, I just better stop now before this gets ugly.
Oct. 25, 2012 9:35 am
DM: Fantastic tale! It's been cold here also. I believe it was 34 degrees this morning. I have never made or eaten Fried Green Tomatoes. By the looks of my front yard, I'm going to need a recipe that calls for >200 tomatoes.
Oct. 25, 2012 11:04 am
Unfortunately chairlifter, I didn't have the chance to get out to my garden the night before the frost and the frost was a day early anyway. I actually live in a cold spot so I will have frost when my neighbor down the block won't. The pepper plants were also way too big to try & dig up and bring in and no amount of water could have saved the actual peppers that froze. I do appreciate the advice and I'll try to not to let Jack depress me too much.
Oct. 25, 2012 11:08 am
Hey J. Dub - you know I went all Horatio Caine - I even tilted my head to the side when I spoke to my kids and we filmed all with a yellow tint to make it seem warmer too....and if you want to keep going, I have some other names for Jack we can use....
Oct. 25, 2012 11:10 am
Hi bikerfamily - sorry to hear that Jack got you too - 200 frozen green tomatoes - sounds like a job for THE BUZZ !
Oct. 25, 2012 7:07 pm
Doug, so sorry for your loss. We lost the tomatoes and squash already, but managed to get the peppers covered. We'll have to harvest this weekend though, I heard Jack will be in the area and could pop in unexpectedly. Hate unexpected company...
Oct. 26, 2012 5:02 am
Good morning Magnolia Blossom and thank you for your thoughts. Jack does make for a lousy house guest.
Oct. 26, 2012 8:58 am
Sorry to hear about the infiltration. Very, very well written though!
Oct. 26, 2012 10:41 am
Thanks Lissa - guess you don't have to worry about Jack where you are.
Click to Change your Profile Picture
Doug Matthews

Home Town
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Living In
Mendham, New Jersey, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2000

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Healthy, Kids, Quick & Easy

Gardening, Reading Books, Music, Charity Work

Subscribe Today!

In Season

Not The Same Old Chicken
Not The Same Old Chicken

We have so many top-rated chicken recipes, you'll never run out of dinner ideas again.

Slow Cooker Time Savers
Slow Cooker Time Savers

Imagine dinner making itself in the slow cooker while you relax or do other things.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
My mother decided early on that her sons would never have to rely on someone to feed them so we all learned to cook at an early age. I really started to branch out when I moved out west to Denver, SF & Dallas. Combine that with extended business travel to Louisiana & my growing love of spices and you get a real mix of flavors.
My favorite things to cook
Love to make cajun food with my favorites being crawfish pie, alligator stew & alligator chili - I go nuts on Super Bowl Sunday
My favorite family cooking traditions
We didn't have a lot of traditions per se but you could count on pancakes or waffles on sundays - dad making scrambled eggs twice a year on christmas morning & mother's day - veal parmagiana on christmas eve, Thanksgiving with Grandma Matthews and any menu of your choice on your birthday. We weren't a spicy family so I learned a lot of good strong basics in the kitchen from Mom that I have carried over into my cooking today.
My cooking triumphs
I love to experiment with variations of dishes I try around the country. My biggest success is here on allrecipes where I had 2 recipes published in the same cookbook - Southwestern Turkey Soup & Curried Carrot Soup. I think my corn muffins are a great starting point and my alligator chili has become a much requested Super Bowl favorite.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a few times in the past where I tossed everything and took everyone to a restaurant instead. I'm not too proud to say my cooking is awful when it really is.
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States