When the weather starts to get cold, one of the first things a backyard gardener will think of is how to keep their plants safe and protected. Frost can wreak havoc on a garden, especially if you have plants like leafy greens, sensitive flowers and certain types of vegetables. Ice crystals can form in the cells and block water from being absorbed. When this happens, you could end up losing a whole season’s worth of yield.
Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your garden from ice and frost. Many of these techniques are easy to do and can be incredibly effective. With a little bit of careful planning, you can keep your garden thriving all year.
Use a Cold Frame
Cold frames are small, portable structures that fit over the top of your plants and provide shelter from some of the more dangerous cold weather elements. Cold frames are built from wood, aluminium or plastic, and usually have an open bottom so they can be placed right on top of a section of your garden. Because of their portability, they can be removed and stored when the weather gets warm again.
A cold frame is also a great way to harden off seedlings and get them prepared for exposure to harsher outdoor conditions. If you have plants that you’ve sprouted indoors and want to get them ready to be planted outside, a cold frame is a great way to do this.View on Amazon
Mulch is an incredibly useful thing to have for your backyard garden, no matter what kind of weather you’re experiencing. It’s versatile and can be made up of a wide variety of materials that you may have lying around your house. One of the best things about mulch though is it can keep your plants warm in winter weather.
When mulch is spread over the roots of your plants, it’ll begin to break down. This process generates small amounts of heat, which is then transferred to the surrounding soil. The bulk of the mulch will then trap this warmth and keep the plants insulated from frost and extreme weather.View on Amazon
Spray Plants With Anti-Transpirant
Anti-transpirants are sprays that help protect plants from frost and other damage due to cold weather. Anti-transpirants work by blocking the stomatal opening of the plant and preventing frost from getting inside the cellular structure. One of the benefits of this type of spray is it will not prevent the uptake of C02, so your plants will still be able to breathe even though they are coated.
It should be noted that anti-transpirants will only protect plants if they’re exposed to a light frost. If you’re expecting temperatures of around 25 degrees fahrenheit or more, this spray should be sufficient. If it’s going to get colder than that, other protective measures should be taken.View on Amazon
One of the best ways to keep your plants warm is to cluster them together in a tight formation. If they’re contained in individual pots, this is a great way to help them survive a cold period. If your area regularly gets cold weather, planning out your garden to keep a tight cluster is a good idea for any plants that are root-bound.
Clustering works due to the humidity that’s expelled from each plant creating a barrier that keeps frost away. This humidity is reabsorbed into each plant and will help protect them from the cold.
Use a 100-Watt Light Bulb
If you’re extremely concerned about your plants getting frosted over, a 100-watt light bulb is a good solution. Wiring up a bulb to be placed over the area you want to keep warm requires a little extra planning and execution, but could be well worth it.
A 100-watt incandescent bulb will generate about 98 watts worth of heat that can be distributed over your plants during the winter months. If you have several rows of plants that you want to keep warm, a collection of these bulbs might be a good idea. Just be sure that they’re not arranged too closely. 12 inches of distance is usually sufficient for the heat to get to the plants.View on Amazon
Water Before a Cold Snap
It may seem like the opposite of what you should be doing, but watering your garden before a cold period offers great protection from frost. Plants that are dry are much more susceptible to frost and freezing over since they’re more likely to take in the cold air moisture. Wet soil also acts as an efficient insulator.
Be sure that you only water the soil around the plants and not the plants themselves. Doing this the day before a cold snap will keep the plants from absorbing frost and damaging their cells.
Which Method Will You Use?
Knowing that you have done everything you can to protect your plants is a good way to get some peace of mind during cold weather. If possible, try a combination of these methods to ensure the greatest amount of protection. The better insulated your garden is, the more likely it will be to survive the winter.