Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Frost Protection

Having a partially shaded garden has it's perks. Most of my perennials and bulbs are just peaking through, where in sunnier spots they have flushed tender growth from the last two weeks of warmth.

Lee Valley's Floating Covers
The weather forecast is calling for -3°C (26°F) this evening, which can certainly cause damage to your tender plants.  For perennials and low growing plants cover with old towels or bedsheets, weighed down on corners. You can buy frost protection fleece or cheese cloth material, but in a pinch what you have around the house will do. Just don't use fabric that is overly weighted, which can break, bend and damage stems.

Lee Valley's Ventilating Cloche
Lee Valley's Garden Cloches

I've also used in the past overturned plant pots, cloches, pop bottles (with bases cut off) which also work great.  In windier situations, place a large stone over such plastic covers, or heel in with some soil so that it remains stable.  With the darker pots, you must remove them in the sunlight the next day but with the clear plastics/glass, you can leave until fear of frost is gone. All plastic covers should have a venting hole so that it doesn't get too hot inside.

I've also used newspaper and garbage bags, but the items mentioned above were most effective.   Some folks may have budding and partially leaved Japanese Maples. These should be covered with sheets if possible.

Hopefully with these methods, frost damage can be avoided. Unfortunately for fruit trees, a large tarp or cloth needs to cover the entire tree if you want to protect the bloom. This is hard to do.  Many fruit groves use overhead sprinkling systems to run all night to make sure the cold air doesn't come in contact with the blossoms and leaves.  

So many things we can do to try and prevent these strange springs, but thankfully, plants will recover in time.

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