The frost has arrived! Time to make sure your garden is ready for the cold. This year has been hot and dry, last winter we had more snow that we have had in years, it’s been a tough time for our gardens.
The threats in your garden this winter aren’t just snow and frost, but the wind, the wet and cold temperatures.
Here are some ideas on how to avoid frost-bitten leaves, rotting roots, even frozen roots and saturation. To make sure your plants have a great season next year they must be protected now. At any time of the year when it comes to gardens you get out what you put in, it’s important not to neglect your gardening duties in the winter.
Believe it or not mulch keeps the plants warm. A layer of bark compost or mulch will prevent moisture from gathering and rotting the stems. The mulch will break down during the cold winter to add organic matter to the soil and improve drainage.
Bring potted plants and hanging baskets inside where you can. If this not an option there are ways to protect them outside. Wrap hessian sacking around plant pots and tie firmly to keep it there all winter. This will stop the roots from freezing. In the case of large plant pots several layers might be needed to make sure they are protected. Some say adding straw between the layers of hessian sack will help to add extra insulation.
Frost protection covers are also available, these can be ideal in snowfall too (more on those later). In a particularly rainy winter, potted plants can become victims of excessive damp. This will starve the roots of oxygen. Make sure your pots have drainage holes, you can also pop them up on bricks to facilitate drainage.
Place straw around and on top of a vegetable patch it to stop the ground from freezing around your veggies. Put mulch on top of soil at the base of any plants to insulate the roots. Cloches are ideal for root crops such as carrots and parsnips. Strawberries and roses can be completely covered over by mulch in winter to keep them insulated.
Delicate and tropical plants
If you have delicate or tropical plants bring them indoors, a greenhouse or conservatory is perfect to make sure they can receive the warm sunlight which they love. Be careful to make sure they’re not touching any icy cold window panes. Those which can’t be moved, such as palm trees can be protected by tying the leaves in the middle to protect the growing point at the base of the leaves.
Where possible moving plants to a more sheltered location is preferable. Wind can increase the problem of cold damage during the winter months so anything pots will benefit from more shelter. When planting, it’s worth considering a bit of winter proofing whether planting along a permeable fence, where there are hedges or a row of trees, to leave plants less exposed in the colder months.
Frost and snow proofing
At these frosty times it is worth doing what you can to protect your plants, frost protection covers do what the name suggests. Available from Frosts to Amazon, there are fleece jackets and bags in all different shapes and sizes. It is a good idea to put stakes in the ground to hold up the cover, and prevent the plant from taking the weight of the cover, this will ensure no damage to leaves and branches. If plants do still have leaves, they will need light and air, so it would be a good idea to take the cover off during the day and tuck them in at night.
When there has been snowfall, it is recommended that you gently knock snow from branches and leaves before the next nighttime freeze. Make sure to do this if you have trees or a shed roof overhanging your beds as its likely when the snow falls off it will land straight on your plants in a heap.