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Beginner Gardening Questions: Help! Frost advisory tonight. What do I do?

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Forum: Beginner Gardening QuestionsReplies: 38, Views: 252
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alayah
Butler, PA

May 12, 2009
1:27 AM

Post #6536556

I'm fairly new at any sort of gardening or landscaping. I thought we were past our last frost since the weather has been hovering in the 60-70s lately. So this past week we planted a small vegetable garden (probably about 8 by 10 foot with strawberry, cherry tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower and jalapenos), planted new cistena plum bushes between my salvia that I planted last year and somehow survived! Oh and a row of impatients along our fence.


Our local news keeps chirping that we have a front advisory tonight and I realized I have no idea what I'm supposed to do to protect my new plants in such a predicament. So what should I do?

RachelLF

RachelLF

May 12, 2009
1:30 AM

Post #6536583

If you are in a frost advisory area, cover your plant's with a large tarp/plastic/blanket.

Rachel
threegardeners
North Augusta, ON

May 12, 2009
1:31 AM

Post #6536586

Sheets. My yard always looks halloweenish this time of year. Sheets cover a large area. If you have individual plants to cover put a flower pot over them held down with a rock or something equally heavy.
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
1:31 AM

Post #6536591

if you have old sheets, cover the plants and weight the sheets down on the edges with rocks but not so tight as to smash the plants. Tall buckets, big bowls, 2 liter bottles with the bottoms cut off, milk jugs, paper bags with the edges weighted. Use pretty much anything you have on hand.

This message was edited May 11, 2009 8:32 PM
alayah
Butler, PA

May 12, 2009
1:52 AM

Post #6536705

The area where my impatients are is about a foot wide between the sidewalk and my chain link fence. Since it's so narrow, could I use sliced open garbage bags here instead of a sheet? Will that work?

I think I have a sheet I can use over the vegetable garden.

Will plastic bags over the bushes work?

Thumbnail by alayah
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
1:54 AM

Post #6536721

sure they should work fine. Your goal is to cover the plants to keep the frost off.

RachelLF

RachelLF

May 12, 2009
1:56 AM

Post #6536737

Like babeegirl said...Use anything you got.

Wishing you the best . Does your chirpper thingy tell you how long your frost adisory will last?

Rachel

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
1:59 AM

Post #6536756

It's a waste of time using plastic. It has zero insulating value. Use blankets, sheets, or cloth tarps. This time of the year the ground is pretty warm, so just keeping the cold air off the tops of plants will help. The warmth from the ground will raise up to your covering & keep things warm.
Northern MN had freezing temps last night.
Bernie
alayah
Butler, PA

May 12, 2009
2:01 AM

Post #6536771

Frost Advisory is from 2am-8am.
What i don't understand though is our forecasted low is 37 degrees. Shouldn't it need to dip closer to 32 for there to be frost?

Also, do the salvia need covered since this is their second year, or does it not matter how old the plant is?
The cistena plum bushes are about 2 feet tall, are they at risk?
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
2:03 AM

Post #6536787

here's a link that explains how frost forms and why it's important to understand the temperature of the air can be different then the temperature at ground level where it can be colder. Overnight moisture falls on the plants and the ground temperature gets cold enough to turn it to frost. Covering the plants prevents the falling moisture to make contact with tender baby plants.
http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/whys/frost.htm

RachelLF

RachelLF

May 12, 2009
2:09 AM

Post #6536823

Anything blooming will get a jolt from a frost no matter how severe it is. But should not kill it.



This message was edited May 11, 2009 10:15 PM
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
2:26 AM

Post #6536900

I guess it's a situation where you have to decide what you can and cannot control if you only have a limited selection of coverings such as trash bags. You can't control how cold the air will get at ground level but you can control how much moisture reaches the plants. I wish you the best of luck :)
alayah
Butler, PA

May 12, 2009
2:43 AM

Post #6536963

I've covered everything except the cistena plum bushes. They aren't blooming yet, should they be okay? I've been trying to figure out what to use to cover those if I need to.
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
2:49 AM

Post #6536984

how big are they Alayah? you can always cut open several bags and tape them together to make a tarp and tape it loosely around the trunk of the bush to keep it from slipping off. Sort of like wrapping them like giant lollipops!

*edit..I just saw above...2 ft tall. Can you slip a big bag over them?

This message was edited May 11, 2009 9:56 PM
melsalz
Mooresville, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 12, 2009
2:56 AM

Post #6537020

I was thinking that newspaper might be a good insulator, spread out the sheets.
dp72
Woodway, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
3:17 AM

Post #6537101

Not only does plastic not insulate, it actually CONDUCTS cold. Plastic sheeting is about the worst thing you can cover plants with unless it would be metal foil.

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
3:48 AM

Post #6537207

I was trying to imply that.
Our plastic covered greenhouses will be colder inside them than the outside temperature the minute the sun goes down.
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
3:56 AM

Post #6537235

it may conduct the cold and insulate poorly but that is not the point of this thread. The issue at hand is a "frost warning" and how to deal with the specific situation of protecting plants from frost. Dealing with the cold is a moot point when it's late, you don't have hours to run to Home Depot for various insulating tarps and you have to address the problem NOW. It's actually detracting from the original issue of protecting the plants from frost. If you'd like to debate the finer differences between cold damage protection vs. frost damage protection, you may want to start a specific thread about that.

RachelLF

RachelLF

May 12, 2009
4:02 AM

Post #6537255

I think babeegirl has this topic well covered;-)

Rachel

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
4:15 AM

Post #6537289

Yes, and when the poor persons plants are froze to death after being improperly covered, are you going to replace the plants for them ?

RachelLF

RachelLF

May 12, 2009
4:21 AM

Post #6537312


Country Garden's, are you feeling zone rage?

I have NO idea what your freeze vs. frost consist's of.

Rachel
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
4:27 AM

Post #6537332

so, it's 10pm at night, you are faced with the frost warning situation, you have a limited selection of protective materials in the house, what would you do? your running around the house trying to find anything, possibly trying to get the kids in bed and dealing with everything else. You have a box of trash bags and maybe 1 or 2 sheets.

CountryGardens, If you disagree with the good intentioned advice given here, please come up with an alternate specific solution based on the above parameters that proves the correctness of your opposition on using plastics to keep frost off of plants.
CarolynH
Maspeth, NY

May 12, 2009
4:31 AM

Post #6537347

How about burning a candle under your bushes??? I might be wrong...I am a newbie!
dp72
Woodway, TX
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
6:37 AM

Post #6537546

The logic of some of what I'm reading here is interesting. One person in particular seems to be saying that even if putting plastic sheeting over plants when there is a danger to them from cold is counterproductive- that plastic provides no protection whatsoever from cold weather- it's still better to cover plants with plastic sheeting than doing nothing if that's all somebody has on hand to cover them with.

That's kind of like saying that if your car is stuck halfway across the railroad track and a train is bearing down on the car, although putting a chair on the track in front of the car won't stop the train from hitting the car, if a chair is all somebody has to use to stop the train, it's better to put the chair between the car and the oncoming train than to do nothing.
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
9:36 AM

Post #6537648

At this time of year, I would assume alayah will be getting a light frost. I deal with those down here a lot. I've successfully used plastic painters drop cloths and plastic garbage bags MANY times for MANY years and have NEVER lost any veggies or flowers. I keep packages of plastic painters drop cloths on hand specifically for this purpose. As stated above, alayah is only looking to protect her plants from a frost, not a freeze. For an actual freeze, I too would resort to sheets, blankets, etc.

Alayah--hope everything turned out well for you.

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
11:00 AM

Post #6537737

At what temperature do you southern people call frost. Up here 32 is frost. It must be a higher temperature there. I don't understand your ideas of moisture causing frost. In the north cold air causes frost. If temperature is 32 or lower things will freeze!
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
11:11 AM

Post #6537751

CountryGardens,
Read babeegirl's attached site above for explanation.

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
11:33 AM

Post #6537798

It says the temperature needs to be 32 or lower to cause frost, the moisture does not cause the frost. You must read closer.
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
11:59 AM

Post #6537868

It says it can get to be 32 AT THE GROUND LEVEL while the actual air temp is NOT 32. Believe you better go read it again. Now I consider this argument closed.

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
12:04 PM

Post #6537889

Good grief people, I live where frost occurs often.

"It says it can get to be 32 AT THE GROUND LEVEL while the actual air temp is NOT 32."

I still contend it will freeze at 32! Are your plants in the air or at the ground level ?

This will be my last post on this subject. But I would like to know how the plants came out this past night.

Have a Great Day!
Bernie
alayah
Butler, PA

May 12, 2009
1:15 PM

Post #6538143

Wow, I had no idea my question would spark a debate.

The good news is that everything seems to have fared fine overnight. I covered the vegetable with a large sheet, the salvia with plastic bags and the imaptients with sliced open garbage bags. It's sunny and 39 degree outside right now, when I removed the bags there was moisture, but it wasn't as cold as I expected. I'm assuming it was a good thing I had just given everything a good watering before I heard the frost advisory. The plastic seems to have made little sauna tents overnight.

Even my strawberry plants which are starting to fruit still seemed happy this morning.
Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll invest in some more sheets or tarps before too long so I don't have to get all MacGyver again last minute.

Thumbnail by alayah
Click the image for an enlarged view.

NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
1:29 PM

Post #6538208

So glad your plants all made it alayah. It's always a huge worry when you have a late frost. Hope it's your last one for the year :-}

CountryGardens

CountryGardens
Lewisville, MN
(Zone 4a)

May 12, 2009
2:39 PM

Post #6538502

Butler, PA had a low last night of 37. Same for cast for tonight. Doesn't freeze at 37.
CarolynH
Maspeth, NY

May 12, 2009
5:38 PM

Post #6539307

Your Strawberry is lovely! I am so glad you didn't have a frost!!!!!
Mojoquilter
Wichita, KS
(Zone 6a)

May 12, 2009
6:41 PM

Post #6539628

good deal! hopefully the crazy weather will warm up and stabilize soon.

RachelLF

RachelLF

May 12, 2009
7:43 PM

Post #6539883

Great;-)
Texasroses
Marlin, TX

May 12, 2009
9:16 PM

Post #6540216

Alayah,
We have all done the crazy "frost coming!" dance, so don't worry about being new to gardening and not knowing what to do. Sounds like you did just right, and everything survived. We keep a stash of old sheets, burlap bags (known locally as gunny sacks, don't ask me why) and lots of plastic flower pots (the 1 gal. or bigger size that nursery plants come in) for that evening or two when the Texas weather gives us a surprise. Since gardening is addictive, and also expansive, you may want to start your stash now!
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

May 12, 2009
9:23 PM

Post #6540258

I use vinyl shower curtain liners for frost protection for my dahlias in the fall. Works like a charm as long as it doesn't touch the plants . I drape and closepin it over stakes around the plants. I like the liners cuz they are cheap and need less storage space in the shed.
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

May 12, 2009
10:45 PM

Post #6540602

True about not letting the plastic touch the plants dahlianut. Thanks for pointing that out--I forgot :-}

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