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Protecting Plants from Jack Frost

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As we say goodbye to summer, waving solemnly and promising to write, fall approaches. A knock on the door causes us to look out, noticing through the peephole that Jack Frost sits on the porch. We try to act like we aren’t home, turning off the lights and hiding behind the couch, but it’s no use: ‘tis the season for cold weather.

For many of us, cold weather isn’t that big of a deal. We have winter coats, we have fireplaces, and we have furnaces. For others, winter weather is highly inconvenient. This is particularly true for people who garden: frost is the enemy of plants.

While it can make people cold or cause momentary numbness in our extremities, it does much greater damage to our leafy friends. Frost is fatal to many types of shrubbery, causing many of us with green thumbs to greet it with one finger.

Don’t freak out just yet. There is no need to yell a passionate “Nooo!” and throw yourself over your rose bushes. There are other means to help keep your plants safe, means that won’t cause your neighbors to point and stare.

Know your frost dates: Depending on where you live, frost dates vary. The first frost of the season may come the same time each year or it may come early, catching you off guard in a surprise attack. For this reason, it’s important to know your frost dates and follow the local weather reports. If you don’t know the frost is coming, you can’t do anything to protect your plants from it.

Add much mulch: The benefits of adding mulch to your garden are plentiful. Not only does mulch enhance the garden’s appearance, it also provides protection, keeps in moisture, and supplies nutrients to the soil. When it comes to frost, mulch also helps keep plants warm. Mulch traps heat, keeping a warm blanket over your plants and helping them to fight off the freeze.

Cover them up: When you’re cold, you curl up in a blanket to get warm. This same concept can apply to your garden. Using plastic garbage bags, old towels, or any type of cloth or paper as a shield can help keep your plants from being frosted. It is, however, a good idea not to let the covers come into direct contact with the shrubs. Building a makeshift tent by placing covers atop foot high poles is one of your best bets. This will keep heat in without causing the covers to stick to, and ruin, your garden.

Get a garden heater: A garden heater is exactly what it sounds like: a heater for your garden. While these are effective, convenient, and easy to use, a certain amount of caution needs to be applied. Some garden heaters can be expensive, and fire hazard conscientious people might not be comfortable leaving a heater on, particularly overnight. A garden that catches fire might keep your plants warm, but it ultimately defeats the purpose of trying to protect them in the first place.

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