Cary, NC – Many of us have already seen the frost gathering on our cars in the morning and if weather reports are to be believed, Cary could be in store for a serious chill this weekend with frost and worst coming in. This can be dangerous for your garden so here are some tips to keep it protected.
Assessing Your Garden’s Risk
To start, what kind of plants do you have in your garden? If they are the kind that are resistant to frost, you don’t have much to worry about. These include perennial flowers, herbs such as basil and oregano and vegetables such as onions and chives.
Additionally, your shrubs and trees are built to withstand the cold and should do just fine. Some exceptions to these are very warm-climate plants such as azaleas and citrus and cherry trees. You probably won’t have citrus or cherry trees in North Carolina but you never know.
Also if you have plants – usually vegetables – that are very root-heavy in your garden, these should resist the frost. These include all strains of potatoes, broccoli, rhubarb and artichokes.
Protecting Your Plants
Your first and easiest task to protect your garden plants from the frost is to take the potted plants indoors. Just make sure you keep them near some light source and keep watering them since they won’t be getting their nutrients passively from the outdoors.
For plants in your garden and in the soil, this will be a bit trickier. If they are small enough, put a bucket or some sort of cover over top of them to keep the frost from getting in. You can even use your empty plant pots if you need something in a pinch. Try and place some mulch around the edges as well, but leave room for air to flow in and out. Cover the pots at night before the temperatures drop too low and then uncover them in the morning when the sun starts heating up the garden.
Larger plants will require you to be more creative. The best choice is to take out bedsheets and blankets and use these to cover parts of your garden that are frost-sensitive. Some common garden plants such as tomatoes and lettuce can resist a light frost so monitor the temperatures and forecasts the night before to see how cold it is expected to get.
Some other tricks are watering your garden before the frost comes in. Not only can this insulate your plants in the soil but it will let your plants have some water to rely on before the frost and sudden temperature drop dries up the soil.
Story by staff reports. Photos by Hal Goodtree. The Gardening Column is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.