Certain parts of South Africa can reach extremely low temperatures in winter, which can kill many plants and vegetable crops. Frost doesn’t necessarily occur in freezing temperatures; it can actually occur between zero and two degrees celsius. Here are a few strategies to protect your plants from frost this winter.
Bring delicate plants indoors
Bring susceptible plants inside, if possible. Potted plants, small container gardens and plants still in their nursery containers are usually easy to relocate indoors. It is not always important to have a heated area, but smaller plants should not be left outside on a very cold night. In most cases, an unheated garage or garden shed will suffice.
Cover your plants to prevent frost
If you have any bedsheets, old blankets or towels, place them loosely over your outdoor plants. Use sticks to keep the cover off the plants and make sure that it stretches all the way down to the ground to form a small canopy of insulation. If it is windy outside, anchor the fabric to the ground with bricks or other heavy objects.
It is better to use woven fabric than plastic sheets as these are more breathable, but if you want extra protection from the cold weather, cover the fabric with a plastic sheet. Remember to remove the cover before midday to ensure that your plants do not wilt from the heat.
Use a cloche
A cloche is a rounded cover that functions as a mini-greenhouse. These are easy to make or they can be purchased at a reasonable price. Simply cut the bottom of a three-litre jug and place it over a small plant to create a makeshift cloche.
Be sure to push the bottom of the jug about three centimetres into the soil. You can even tie the handle of the jug to a nearby pole or tree to prevent it from blowing away. Keep the lid closed at night for protection and remove the lid during the day so the plant can breathe.
Water the soil in the mornings
It may sound counterintuitive but moist soil can hold more heat than dry soil. Moisture in the soil conducts heat to the soil surface, warming the region around the plant by two to three degrees. Water your plants in the morning to thaw any frost that has built up overnight and to allow the sun to warm the damp soil throughout the day.
Mulch can prevent frost
Pour mulch (shredded tree bark or compost) over the soil and around the base of plants. This will protect and insulate the ground and plants from frost. Mulch also helps to keep moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation. As seen from the point above, this is a good thing when trying to prevent frost.
In addition to these frost prevention techniques, homeowners can seek guidance from their garden maintenance providers. Do not let your garden die this winter. Contact professionals who can offer expert advice on frost protection for all your plants.
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