Monday, September 24, 2012

Impending Freeze? Cover Your Plants With Blankets!

I kept glancing to the side, keeping an eye on that thing I had created.  It was nothing but cloth and sticks, but to an overactive imagination, it may as well have jumped out of a horror movie, and into my backyard.

A gigantic creature from a well crafted novel:

One that inspires fear through the viewer's imagination, rather than through showing the terrible creature.  You know it'll attack at some point. You even know you'll eventually see it... you just don't know when.  Remember The Alien?  Same concept.

What am I babbling about?

As mentioned yesterday, a freeze was coming, and I had to protect the remaining crops in my edible garden.

I discussed it with various vendors at the farmers market, and they all said the same thing.

Cover everything with blankets.

One woman explained that by using blankets, the freeze hits everything around the covered area, and even the blanket itself, but passes over the plant that's being protected.  This made sense, and I had a few large camping blankets and sleeping bags, so I got to work as soon as I finished dinner.

First, I folded the smallest blanket to the correct size, and laid it over my winter squash vine, finishing up by placing rocks on top in order to keep it from blowing away if a gust of wind hits.

This plant is the least likely to produce any fruit, since I planted it in a bad location, and very late, then continually forgot to water it.  Oops.

blanket covered winter squash

Why did I protect it, then?  I find it intriguing.

It has got to be one of the hardiest plants on the planet.  In order to keep itself hydrated, it seems to be sucking every last drop of moisture from the surrounding area at the expense of my violets and hostas.  I've previously mentioned how hardy these two plants are, so you can imagine how intrigued I am!

Next, I covered the watermelon vines.

I used a huge, blue blanket that I folded in half.  I not only covered the ground, but also wrapped the edge of the blanket around the hanging melon.

blanket covered watermelon vines

Finally, I got to work on my spaghetti garden.

This, of course, is a container garden, so it's even more vulnerable than the first two crops.  First, I wrapped a sleeping bag around the pot and the stump it was sitting on, keeping it together with duct tape (Is there anything duct tape can't do?).

After that was complete, I grabbed some long wooden dowels and set them up inside the tomato cage at the center so that any covering I used would have support.

I didn't use a blanket for the top of this garden, however, because I was worried about the weight.  Instead, I grabbed a large trash bag and covered the entire thing, stuffing cherry tomato stems and leaves inside.

In the end, I ended up with something that reminded me of a central scene within some sort of Stephen King novel.

container garden covered with a sleeping bag and a trash bag


No, seriously... I can totally see the sociopathic killer hiding within those bags.

Naturally, the whole time I was moving plants into the garage or house I'd watch that creation out of the corner of my eye.  I was relieved when it was all complete.

When morning finally arrived, I went out to remove all of the blankets.  

The temperature had dropped to 30 degrees that night, and even though that's higher than I expected, it's still dangerously low.  The decision to cover everything with blankets was a good one, but I didn't know what to expect.  Blankets, after all, are heavy.

What if I didn't support them well enough?  Would I have snapped stems?

Fortunately, aside from having a serious case of 'bed head' (Everything was pretty flattened wherever it was touched by the blankets), everything was doing well.  I knew it would perk up within a few hours.

Even the warm-weather loving watermelon!!!

safe watermelon after the freeze

And look at that!  Even the blossom survived!

So remember...

Cover your crops with a blanket when you have warning of an overnight freeze.  You won't regret it!

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