Friday, January 27, 2012

How to combat the cold

I know you all are wondering how you will ever make your garden survive the winter. You just planted all your favorite annuals , and want them to survive their first winter so you can have a wonderful production in following spring. Well, here are a few tips to survive the cold.

Watering: Believe it or not, watering will actually help slow the freezing process. Something about the ground being damp making it so the freeze will not go as deep as if it were dry dirt. Also if you live in a part of the world that gets rather mild winters (the coldest it gets is about 25 Degrees F, or about -3 C, and that is for only about 3 hours in the dead of night) then you might have to worry about your evergreen plants drying out. Particularly if you are experiencing a bit of a drought, as I'm dealing with in northern California bay area.  Your other plants usually are dormant by then and water usage is at a minimum.

Covers: There are many many different covers you can use to protect your plants from cold. They range from physical covers , like a tarp or a large potato sack, to fine netting, to liquid sprays that will insulate your plants and increase their cold defense by about 8%.  My favorite cold guard is called Cloud Cover, a wonderful spray that will go on and dry clear and form a protective flexible shield from cold, heat and wind that will also lessen the water loss from the leaves. The only problem is that it is not effective at extremely low temperatures, and will wash off in a heavy rain.

Cloud Cover
Pic from

Although, If you want a good protection from the cold you can always use a tried and true method. String Christmas lights around the plants you want to protect. The heat from the bulbs will actually keep the plant from suffering freezer burn.  The biggest problems with using lights are if you have LOTS of plants you will need LOTS of lights, and you need a good even distribution of lighting, this will possibly produce too much light for your to comfortably stand, or you neighbors will accept, especially if it is not around Christmas time. Your electric bill will suffer from this as the lights have to be the old energy hogs because the new LED lights do not put off enough heat. Lastly, you will have to put them up and take them down just like you would for a normal decorations, and THE biggest problem is that it will not keep the ground from freezing unless you put a layer on the ground as well, and that would just be silly. 

If you have a few bucks to spend I would invest in a green house. The glass one on a cement base would be the best choice, however there are plastic ones that work almost as well and are much easier and cheaper to  erect. The best one I have found was in a gardening magazine called mother earth news , the convertible greenhouse is basically just a metal pipe frame with hinges that allows it to fan out into a half circle that sits flat side down with the special plastic sheet on top to trap the heat. It's a great design, and not only will provide cold protection, but will allow you to grow great stuff in the spring and winter!

OK! thank you for reading guys! come back again soon for more tips on getting your garden growing. 


  1. Nice tips! I always thought more water meant more freezing.

  2. I would love to have a greenhouse. I've 5 different gardens. One of the things I do is to put leave's over the top of some of my plants. I've been able to get some annuals to survive the winter using this method.

  3. Will do. I never knew about that cover stuff.

  4. cool tips - I have to clear out my greenhouse before the spring

  5. Dad's been wanting a greenhouse for ages. He just hasn't had the time to get around to building it yet though.

  6. It's been 59 F and sunny here lately. If this keeps up my tulips will pop up too soon and then it will freeze again and they'll die. One day, I'm getting my own greenhouse!

    1. I would love to have my own green house ! I promote you in this to protect those fancy tulips! haha. good luck!

  7. seems like a lot of effort to fight of the frigid cold

  8. It's a shame I'm not into gardening but surely I will recommend your blog to friends of mine that are.