Just when you are getting all excited about your gardens, WHAM! A FROST. Then it warms up, you get all excited about how the little veggies are doing and…..BAM! another frost. It’s so easy to forget we just got into spring and most of this year was like an early summer. Looking ahead to what to do for our plants, IN CASE we get caught flat footed, is simple unless you have a huge garden to protect. Here are a few pointers from Gardening Know How.
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden )
It’s spring, and you have worked hard putting in all those precious garden plants only to learn that the threat of frost is on its way. What do you do?
Tips For Protecting Plants From Frost
First of all, do not panic. Do keep in mind that anytime there is a threat of frost, you need to take precautionary measures to protect tender plants from exposure to cold temperatures.
The most common way to guard against frost is with the use of some type of covering. Most anything will work, but old blankets, sheets, and even burlap sacks are best. When covering plants, drape them loosely and secure with stakes, rocks, or bricks. The lighter covers can simply be placed directly over the plants, but heavier covers may require some type of support, such as wire, to prevent the plants from becoming crushed under the weight. Covering tender garden plants in the evening will help retain heat and protect them from freezing. However, it is important that the covers be removed once the sun comes out the following morning; otherwise, the plants may fall victim to suffocation.
Another way to protect plants is by watering them a day or two before the frost is expected. Wet soil will hold more heat than soil that is dry. However, do not saturate the plants while the temperatures are extremely low, as this will result in frost heave and ultimately injure the plants.
Light watering in the evening hours, before temperatures drop, will help raise humidity levels and reduce frost damage.
Some people prefer to mulch their garden plants. This is fine for some; however, not all tender plants will tolerate heavy mulching; therefore, these may require covering instead. Popular mulching materials that can be used include straw, pine needles, bark, and loosely piled leaves. Mulch helps to lock in moisture and during cold weather, holds in heat. When using mulch, try to keep the depth at about two to three inches.
Some tender plants actually require over-wintering in a cold frame or indoors. Cold frames can be purchased at most garden centers or built easily at home. Wood, cinder blocks, or bricks can be used for the sides and old storm windows can be implemented as the top. For those needing a quick, temporary frame, simply incorporate the use of baled hay or straw. Stack these around your tender plants and apply an old window to the top.
Designing a garden with raised beds will also help guard plants against frost during cold temperatures. Cold air tends to collect in sunken areas rather than higher mounds. Raised beds also make covering of plants easier.
The best way to know what type of precautionary measure you should take for tender garden plants is knowing their individual needs. The more you know the better off your garden and tender plants will be.