Scott Evans is warning gardeners: This is not a drill.

The temperature really is going to hit the freezing mark soon in the Council Bluffs-Omaha area, with a 30-degree reading expected Friday night into Saturday and 32 on Saturday night, said Evans, the horticulture program coordinator for Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. Those temperatures will kill plants such as tomatoes, peppers, impatiens, coleus and begonias.

This means lots of work ahead for gardeners who want to bring in tender house plants or save some produce to ripen indoors.

“It’s time to get things done,’’ Evans said. “It looks like Wednesday and Thursday day, do any of your last harvesting. Green peppers, mature green tomatoes. Any produce we want to bring in.’’

Evans said he wouldn’t wait until Friday to jump into action, not with a temperature of 37 degrees expected Thursday night. “That’s pushing it,’’ he said.

Evans recommends moving house plants inside or at least into a garage or shed by Thursday at the latest. That way, you can avoid the rain and wind that is forecast, too.

Perennials such as rhubarb and asparagus will be fine, he said.

“Our cold crops — spinaches, lettuces, turnips and radishes — they can take it down to the lower temperatures,’’ he said.

Once you are done harvesting your vegetables, make sure to clear away the remaining foliage in those beds.

“A lot of diseases can overwinter, so it’s good to clean those up,’’ he said.

Flower beds, however, are different. Evans said you should leave those intact unless a plant has a major issues, such as powdery mildew on peonies. Those should be cut back.

“Everything else, leave that dead foliage standing,’’ he said. “Birds will use that as shelter and bugs will overwinter there as well.’’

Leaves also are starting to fall from trees. Evans said it’s much better to mow them into your lawn instead of bagging them and sending them to the landfill.

Leaves provide valuable nutrients for your soil. A pile in a corner of your yard is a great place for bugs to overwinter, too.

“It’s silly we’re throwing away a natural resource,’’ Evans said. “This fall, mow those leaves back into the ground.’’

The upcoming forecast according to the weather service includes:

Today: A 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 68. South wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 5 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 57. South southeast wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before 2 p.m, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 66. South southeast wind 5 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Thursday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely after 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Friday: Showers likely, mainly before 8 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 32. Breezy.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 49.

Saturday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 34.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 52.

Sunday night: Areas of frost. Otherwise, mostly clear, with a low around 34.

Monday: Areas of frost. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 56.

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