Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Protecting your garden against early frosts

The evenings are drawing in and it’s nearly time for the clocks to go back - not to mention Halloween. Now is the time we all start thinking about hunkering down for the winter.

The end of October used to be when you could expect the first frost on the ground. Even though we are very aware of the effects of global warming there is still a chance of early frosts in dry weather. The Met Office chaps say it happens when high pressure leads to clear night skies.

Frost can damage your plants and make your new garden look unsightly. A real Halloween fright for the garden, in fact.

Frost causes the water in your plants to freeze which damages the cells in the plants. Damaged plants can become limp, blackened and distorted. Where plants face the morning sun problems can be made worse because rapid defrosting will cause the cell walls to rupture.

So there's science in this - not just evil Halloween spirits. And if there're is a rational scientific explanation there is bound to be some rational scientific action you can take to ward off the Halloween effect.

Here is a handy list of things you can do to protect your valuable plants from the effects of early frost.
  • Cover trained plants or tender plants growing in the ground with a fleece-covered frame.
  • Cover bulbs, corms and herbaceous plants that have been cut back with a layer of manure, leaf mulch or straw.
  • Grow tender plants in pots so that they can be moved indoors or into a greenhouse when the weather gets worse.
  • Cover low growing plants from wet weather with plastic or glass cloches.
  • Choose frost-proof outdoor containers so that they don’t crack. Move them into a green house or shed if the weather is likely to be particularly bad.
  • Dig up annual plants that are unlikely to survive the winter and throw them on the compost. This will give you more time to deal with other jobs that need doing.
  • Watering plants before a frost will insulate the roots.
  • Cover plants that are in the early-morning sun with sheeting to shade them from the sun’s rays to so they don’t defrost too quickly.

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