If you’ve enjoyed tending a garden through the summer and fall, you might be bracing for the winter frost to set in and undo your hard work. There are some steps you can take to defend your garden, though, so check out this advice to protect your plants.
Signs that Frost is Coming
The weather will clue you in when it’s time to prepare your garden for a frosty night. Naturally, low temperatures are the first indicator, and high moisture from fog and dew can contribute to frost formation. Cloud coverage acts as an insulator, and temperatures are less likely to fluctuate drastically if there’s a grey sky overhead. On the other hand, an open sky lets heat escape, and it’s more likely for temperatures to drop rapidly. If there’s not much wind, there’s little chance any warm currents will come through to protect your plants, too.
Guarding Your Garden
To protect your plants from the formation of frost, keep them covered. You can use plastic or glass containers for smaller plants, and sheets or towels for larger plants. A layer of mulch around the base of the plants can serve as insulation for their roots as well. Just remember to leave a couple of inches of space open around the trunk to let warmth rise up from the soil. If you have any potted plants, remember that they’re more susceptible to cold temperatures since they don’t have the insulation provided by the earth. You’ll need to bring them inside, but don’t store them someplace too warm, as a sudden temperature change can also be harmful. Keep them just by the door or even in your basement or garage.
While you certainly want to protect your garden from freezes, there are some plants that actually benefit from a light frost. These plants typically contain ample starches, and these starches convert to sugar to survive in the cold. A little frost is all it takes to sweeten up a variety of vegetables, especially hearty root veggies like carrots, parsnips, celeriac, and beets. Other plants that sweeten up after a frost include leeks, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
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