Gain peace of mind with frost protection
If you’re lucky you haven’t had to deal with frost just yet, although you can be sure it’s on the way. As everybody tries to push their growing season as far into the fall as possible to squeeze in an additional harvest, many will be affected by sudden shifts in temperature and have to deal with frost damage. However, there are a few ways to protect your crops from frost which can help you get the most out of the last few weeks of the growing season.
There are generally two types of frosts that occur, and for the most part they both require protection. An advective frost happens when a cold front moves in, causing significant drops in the temperature, while a radiation frost occurs on clear nights when the clouds aren’t present to trap heat close to the ground. Radiation frost usually doesn’t cause a large change in temperature, but it can still cause damage to plants of all kinds. For plants, a sudden freeze can be the most dangerous. This drastic change in temperature doesn’t give plants the time to adjust to the colder temperature, and sudden freezes are most likely to happen in the early fall or late spring. When these frosts occur the most vulnerable plants are those that are young, still growing or flowering and dehydrated. The most common damage to these plants is the death of flower buds and damage to flowers, shoots, fruit and other sensitive parts of the plant.
It’s time to start thinking about freezing temperatures and putting a plan into action, and in order to effectively protect your plants from the forthcoming cold weather, you must maintain healthy soil, properly set up your plans and provide some form of cover.
Maintain the Soil
Soil plays an essential role in a plant’s ability to bear cold temperatures, and managing the soil can help to protect plants above and below the ground. Keeping soil at the proper consistency is a good place to start. Soil that is loose tends to have lower temperatures, because it reduces the conduction of heat. Preventing soil from becoming too loose will help to retain heat, and making sure that the soil is moist can also help. However, it is important to make sure that the soil doesn’t become too wet. When soil is overly wet the sun’s energy isn’t retained as heat, and is instead used to evaporate the extra water. However, just like there needs to be a balance with the consistency of the soil, there also needs to be a balance in the soil’s moisture, because dry soil conducts less heat.
Plant Set Up
The layout of your crops can also help to reduce frost damage. It requires a little advanced planning on your part, but in the end it will be worth it. First and foremost, if you can, choose to grow frost-tolerant plants. These plants are hardy and most likely to withstand frost. This does limit the species of plants that you can grow, and just about everybody is going to want to grow something that isn’t frost tolerant. If you are going to grow plants that aren’t frost tolerant, you should first survey your land to find a good place to grow. Plants that are sensitive to frost should be planted in land that is at a higher elevation, and should be kept away from low lying tracts of land, as the cold tends to settle in these areas. If there is a large body of water, like a pond or lake, on your land, frost-sensitive plants should be planted near it. Air masses over water cool at a slower rate, so the plants are less likely to be bombarded by cold temperatures. Furthermore, positioning plants on land that has a southern or western exposure can be helpful, as these areas usually receive the most sunlight and are generally warmer.
Structures, row covers and frost blankets are the perfect way to retain heat around the plants. They trap heat escaping from the soil, and keeps it circulating around the plants. Of course a greenhouse or high tunnel is the perfect way to provide complete protection and lengthen your growing season, but for those looking for a short-term solution. We have other options that will work perfectly.
- FrostGuard Row Covers are set up over a row of plants and create a microclimate that seedlings can thrive in during the early spring or late fall. They come in light weight, which provides 4 degrees of frost protection, medium weight, which provides 6 degrees, and heavy weight, which provides 8 degrees.
- Starfoam Anti-Frost Insulation Blankets can increase soil temperatures for higher yields and provide protection in temperatures as low as 25 degrees. This is a great option for flowering annuals, gardens, bedding plants, fruits, foliage and vegetables.
- Spun Bond Frost Blankets can be placed directly over the plants. These blankets provide a quick and easy way to administer frost protection.
Providing cover to your plants is the ideal way to protect them from frost and extend your growing season.
Freezing temperatures and frost is certainly on its way, but by maintaining the health of your soil, properly setting up the layout of your garden or farm and providing cover to your plants, you can keep your crops healthy and profitable and ease your mind on the impending frosts.