11 November 2012

Jack Frost is coming!

Do you have your “frost blankets” ready?

Cotton is harvested
Autumn has arrived
in Savannah 

The freezing temperatures here in Savannah are at night- until the sun rises. So we are dealing with hours of freeze, not months... 

Keep a few old sheets and blankets around and keep your tender trees out a bit longer and to protect less hardy tree's roots and pots on those coldest nights. Laying a light to medium-weight blanket on top of tender trees gives approximately five degrees of extra warmth. But sheets and blankets become wet with condensation and dew, ice up and stick to leaves and conduct heat away from the plant. Plastic materials that do not breathe are worse. Plastic can damage plants on warm, sunny days.  The heat builds up under the plastic and if it touches the leaves they can be scorched.

Japanese Maple

Nurserymen and farmers often use 'frost blankets' to  cover  crops, This white, spun polypropylene fabric can be purchased from most nurseries. This lightweight fabric can add 2-5 degrees F to the temperature. This covering is breathable: some air, water, and sunlight pass through. Unlike plastic sheeting you can leave garden blankets on plants throughout the day without harming them.

hard, killing frost on
Japanese Maple leaves

The floating cover protects trees from the cold, shielding the trees from wind and winter burn. Frost blankets are put directly over the trees creating a layer that traps in the ground heat. All sides of the frost blanket must be sealed to keep the freezing air outside. The fabric is lightweight and can be reused many times. For severe cold use two layers with a layer of polyethylene film on top. For a few more degrees of protection on extra cold nights try Christmas lights under the blanket. 

The Wall-of-Water® is a cone-shaped ring of connected plastic tubes filled with water that surrounds a single plant; there is a significant amount of heat released as water freezes. A Wall-of-Water can provide over night frost protection down to upper-teens.

Last roses of the year

Potted plants are particularly susceptible to frosts because the roots are less insulated. If you are unable to put container plants indoors, wrap the pot in fabric or simply bury the pot in the ground or cover with mulch, in addition to protecting the foliage.

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