Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Tips for Frost Prevention
While you may be able to handle the temperatures dipping down into the lower half of the thermometer lately, you may not be quite ready to give up on your plants and vegetables that can catch a chill and wither up for good once the cold weather arrives. Frost season is coming fast and despite the last few warm days of summer holding on, the nights across much of the country have begun to cool down significantly. This can be bad news for gardens and crops that you’d like to have around for just a bit longer. But with a little effort and the right protection, this is certainly possible.
Frost can be damaging to young and tender plants, and when it’s cold enough, all plants can be hit with frost and die out for the season. It may sound like a simple solution, but many plants can be protected from colder temperatures by simply covering them up. Not that this will keep them in bloom or producing all winter, but with the proper cover, you can keep plants around a little bit longer. On the flip side, when spring rolls around again, you can also start growing a bit earlier by using the same cover technique. Spring can be as finicky as fall, and night temps can drop down to uncomfortable levels for plants, so being prepared with covers is a great way to help them last longer in the fall and not get damaged in the spring after planting.
Frost blankets are placed directly over shrubs and plants, creating a layer to hold in heat that comes from the ground, while keeping frost and cold air away from plants. When installing frost blankets, it is important to keep all sides of it sealed to eliminate any heat from escaping and cold air from entering. A lightweight and semi-permeable cover, like our Spun Bond Frost Blanket, is an ideal choice that keeps plants protected while still allowing some moisture to reach them. For a more insulating option, try our Starfoam Anti-Frost/Insulation Blanket, which is great for overwintering plants and has high insulation protection.
Row cover is another option for frost protection. This type of cover is designed to increase the temperature of the area below it, which helps keep the plants underneath from freezing. It can be placed directly on top of crops or draped over hoops, creating a mini hoop house. Depending on the level of protection you may need, there are light, medium and heavy-weight row cover options available.
Another great way to protect your plants and extend the growing season, especially for vegetable-producing crops, is a high tunnel. High tunnels are hoops covered with a greenhouse film or fabric, designed to protect plants from the elements, and provide a few extra weeks before and after the growing season. They can be designed to cover as large or as small of an area needed. In addition to frost protection, high tunnels provide protection from wind, driving rains, insects and other harmful elements in areas where weather can be unpredictable at times. They are a great way for growers to extend their seasons, which means a more profitable business. Who wouldn’t want that?!
As you probably know, cold weather can hit fast and even if you’re not prepared with specially designed frost blankets or row covers, you can still protect your plants. Cardboard boxes, burlap, tarps, old sheets or any other scrap fabric you have laying around will certainly do the trick in a pinch! Even pine branches or straw can add some protection and warmth to plants when the temps fall fast and you’re left scrambling to save those last few favorite plants of the summer. No matter what you use, be sure to take it off in the morning as the sun rises and temperatures warm up to ensure that your plants are still getting the sunlight and warmth they need.
What are some tips or tricks you have for preventing frost when the temperatures cool down? We’d love to hear them!