DAYS ARE SUNNY BUT NIGHTS ARE COLD. Plant covers

DONT FORGET THE FROST.

Gardens need help in winter. Depending on where you live, you may need to protect plants from frost. This is obviously especially so if you live in northern parts, but even those in the south can suffer deep frosts at sometime every winter. It’s always best to be safe than to be sorry.




Plants are great at storing whatever energy the sun can provide in winter, and that can be a surprising amount on a bright sunny day. When the evening comes, and in winter this is always early, the temperature drops rapidly. All the heat that the plants have managed to store gets lost. If that is all that happens there is no problem. However, if the evening has clear skies the temperature can drop sharply and a keen frost can set in. Plant cells can freeze and ultimately die.



To protect plants from frost there are several options you can choose from. Remember to bring the possibility of wind into the equation. Wind can blow away any protection you may use if you don’t fasten in down properly, and it can create a wind chill effect that makes a just below freezing temperature a lot more severe in terms of how it can affect vulnerable plants.



There are various frost fabric fleece covers available that will help to protect plants from frost. They work by insulating the area around the plants to prevent freezing. The fleece can be draped over the plants and secured firmly to the ground at the edges. The cover should be removed when there are no freezing conditions in daytime to let the plant get as much light as possible. The frost fabric fleece covers are permeable and can allow moisture to enter.



A heavier thermal blanket can be used to protect plants from frost. It is essentially the same as a fleece cover, but heavier and provides better protection. It can trap heat inside the blanket creating a kind of micro climate that is frost free. This provides better protection from damaging winds, though it is always necessary to ensure the blanket is firmly secured to the ground. Thermal blankets and frost fabric fleece covers can be rolled up and stored away when not in use.



A more robust way to protect plants from frost can be through a cold frame. These can be portable and removed quite easily, but when in place they can have a valuable effect in saving plants from the damage of frost. Cold frames are transparent enclosures, a bit like a mini greenhouse, that covers the plants. They let the light through, but keep out the wind and because they help to trap heat, they can keep the plant’s immediate environment free of frost.