As you kickstart your garden for an upcoming season, there’s still the winter cold to contend with. Here are 8 ways to support your garden when it’s still cold.
Your garden is a work of art. You’ve spent hours poring over and selecting the right plants for your temperate zone, tending to their upkeep, and working that soil. Protect your flora babies from frost with these tips.
1. Lower your expectations
Cold air is more dense than warm, so you may notice frost affects low-lying areas of your garden first. Warm air rises, right? So, when looking for a place to start, go low.
2. Get in a round of drinks
Winter winds are often dry and can strip plants of hydration faster than they can absorb it. Ensuring your garden is well-watered is a good defense against frost. Moist ground tends to stay warmer than dry.
The best time to water is a day before a freeze is predicted, when the air is above 40 degrees F. Do not water if you already have snow or ice on the ground.
2. Contain your containers
If you have a container garden or plants that can easily be brought indoors while winter continues to rage, do it. When it comes to seeding and buying bulbs, think about creating an indoor space for keeping spring container gardens during colder months. Think of it as an indoor staging ground in winter for a glorious bloom in spring.
3. Protect early risers
If you have sprouts or other flowers that are popping up, cover them with an inverted bucket with a weight on it. This will keep frost from settling on their tender leaves.
4. Give plants a new wardrobe
For shrubs, trees, and other established growth, covering them with material provides an extra layer of protection. You can use sheets, blankets, drop cloths, towels, or any other hardy material outside of plastic. Since holding the heat in is as much a goal as protecting the plants directly from frost, make sure the materials come down to the ground for best results.
For more warmth, you can use a string of Christmas lights or a mechanic’s lamp under the covering. Make sure the light does not directly touch the material because while a fire will keep the plants from getting frost-bitten, it presents other problems that you can well imagine.
5. Get back to nature with natural insulators
If the plants you’re covering are low-lying, try a natural insulator like straw. This works particularly well on strawberry plants.
Make sure you remove any covering during the day even if frost is predicted for the following night. Leaving coverings in place may cause your plants to overheat.
6. Mulch ado about gardening
Some plants can survive a frost that damages their leaves as long as their roots remain untouched. Spreading a layer of organic mulch 2-3 inches thick around the plants will keep their bases and roots warm.
8. Know your plants’ limitations
Assess your garden and make sure you are raising plants that are well suited for your growing climate. If not, planting them in moveable containers is one way to guard against future loss. If you know a plant is not hardy enough for your region, make it portable and move it to a garage or indoor spot when the temperatures drop.
Let Mother Nature be your guide
When planting, follow your growing region’s suggestions on when is the best time to plant. Rushing your garden, or planting before the last frost, could lead to disappointment when Mother Nature decides to cover the ground with one more icy display.