Unless you live in southern California, Arizona, Hawaii, or Florida, you have probably been a victim of snow, ice, and freezing temps. Even Texas has been hit by these storms once in a while. And Louisiana has been known to get some snow and cold temps too. But if you live in any of the colder zones, you are probably well aware of what the weather can do to your plants. What about those of us who are not used to these crazy weather variations?
From Mild to Wild
Our winter was totally mild here in the Missouri Ozarks this year… until about a week ago. It went from low 60s to negative six in the past two weeks. Then all of a sudden, we have an inch of ice on the ground, topped by six inches of snow. And it is still snowing. First, we were all stuck at home due to COVID, now we are stuck at home due to weather.
Protect Your Plants
So, what should you do to protect your garden? If you know in advance that this is going to happen, there are many things you can do to protect your tender vegetation. Because a lot of us have already seen early bloomers due to the warm temps, we have to worry about what this crazy cold and precipitation is going to do to the plants that have already peeked out of the soil.
In some cases, snow can be good for your plants as it acts as insulation from the cold. Ice is not good though. And having snow on top of the ice is a big problem. But you cannot go out there with a blow dryer or space heater to thaw them out. The best thing to do if you know in advance that this is going to happen is to cover them.
Covering Your Plants with Covers
While some people suggest using plastic to cover your plants, it is even better if you can use something insulated like old comforters or blankets. But make sure they do not touch any part of your plants. Use stakes or tent poles to keep the covers up off the plants. But make sure the covers go all the way to the ground on the sides. Like a tent or one of those forts you built as a kid.
To protect your evergreen shrubs and trees from the cold, do not prune them or feed them after the middle of summer. If you live in an area where it tends to get below zero for much of the winter season, you may already know these things. But you may be caught unaware if a late winter storm hits in February or March. And there is not a whole lot you can do about ice.
Ice is Not Your Friend
Ice storms are the worst. Not only does it make driving and walking impossible, but it also weighs down the power lines, causing power outages. It can also damage or kill your trees. This is especially troubling if you have an orchard of fruit trees or other important flora. If you know in advance, you can get an arborist to prune your trees for ice. But do not do it yourself if you do not know what you are doing.
Build a Cold Frame or Greenhouse
If you are handy or know someone who is, why not build a cold frame or greenhouse for your delicate plants? Especially if you live in an area that almost always gets below freezing temperatures. A cold frame is just a box built over your garden with an old window or piece of glass on top. You can even use straw bales for the sides if it is easier to get than wood. Straw is the best insulator, after all. And once the winter is over, you can use it as mulch.
Getting Rid of the Snow
Once you have taken care of your plants and the snow is done falling, you have to choose whether to just let it melt on its own or go out and shovel it. If you are not in the best of health or just do not want to do it yourself, you can always find that neighborhood kid looking to make a few bucks. But don’t forget to use a long shovel or broom to push the snow off the roof too.
Make sure you wear lots of layers, gloves, a hat, and a scarf to protect you from the cold. You can get frostbite within five minutes if the wind chill is low enough. Anything under zero degrees is too cold. Just stay inside. For most of us, COVID has kept us working at home so just stay in and continue to work from home until all that white stuff melts away.