Friday, May 17, 2013

Frost Questions

This time of year is tough on both the plants and the gardener here in zone 4.  Winter is mostly gone but the battle between warm weather systems from the south and cold northern air continues.  We recently enjoyed a day that saw afternoon temperatures close in on eighty degrees but the overnight low fell to twenty-seven and featured both freeze and frost.  Fortunately, our protections were in place and most of our plants survived.

The pictured circle of lilies illustrates a contradiction.  The plastic pail used to cover these plants leaves the left most plant exposed.  It faced the cold frost unprotected and alone.  It looks no different than the plants that spent the cold night under a bucket.  Last year we lost an entire circle of these lilies when we forgot to cover them on a night that had frost.

We have grown quite fond of this bush called summer sweet.  It freely reproduces by root runners and we have it planted in several locations.  We never cover these bushes as they usually leaf out late enough to avoid killing frosts.  That was not the case this year.  All of the other bushes are covered with tiny brown dead leaves.  Topography saved this plant as a small hill shelters it from the cold that pours down from the ridge.  We will wait to see if the burned plants produce a second set of leaves.

These apple blossoms were also unprotected from the cold.  We have neither smudge pots nor windmills to fight the frost.  Let totally alone these blossoms appear to have escaped injury.  Bees still visit here and the scent that fills the air is sweet beyond description.

We broke out the tarps and the buckets again last night.  The potted plants on the wall were all carried into the basement.  None of these precautions were necessary last night but like the prey we must escape every time.

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