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Feb 2 / Jeff

What To Do During a Hard Freeze Warning

Record low temperatures are forecasted for tonight, likely dipping into the low 20’s in the SE valley. According to the NWS, there is a huge cold air mass creeping in from our neighbors to the north. Unfortunately, that means it’s time to worry about the sensitive plants in the yard. Normally, that would equate to the use of frost blankets and sheets. However, the constant wind is posing a major challenge, ranging from 10-15 mph gusting up to 20+ at times. I would cover my citrus trees, but with the wind, it’s pointless. The blankets would end up flying around the yard. I will have to bite the bullet and expect a lot of damage from the severe cold temperatures.

Therefore, I am focusing my efforts on the vegetable gardens and a few select fruit trees. Specifically, I have a nectarine that decided to start flowering this week. If the flower buds are exposed to extreme freezing temperatures, I can pretty much kiss my nectarine crop goodbye. So I put on my creative thinking hat:

I used a frost blanket along with a string of 25 Christmas lights (C7 size). I purposely taped the light bulbs near each cluster of flower buds to keep them warm. The blanket holds in the warmth and shields the flowers from the annoying cold wind. We’ll see if this works in the next few months when (or if) I get fruit…

Now, for the vegetable garden. Same idea here, use a bunch of frost blankets. I have one of those outdoor propane heaters attached to a 20 lb. cylinder as a backup measure.

I also have a “mini greenhouse” on the side of the house. It’s surrounded with Agribon AG-19 fabric on the outside. I also covered the plants inside with another layer. As you can see I am also using old Christmas lights for added heat.

Some would say I am crazy. But remember, I love gardening and if I can do something to save my plants, I will.

But regardless of what I can do, Mother Nature still has the upper hand. We’ll see how much damage occurs in the next few days…

2 Comments

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  1. Rob / Apr 25 2014

    Hi Jeff,

    So how did it work out on the heating idea?

    Thanks!

    • Jeff / May 1 2014

      Hi Rob,

      The light bulbs certainly helped, but the propane heater was not a very effective method as shown above. It would have been much better if the heater was inside a makeshift greenhouse to trap the heat. Fortunately, all of my trees are mature now so they can handle some cold damage.

      Jeff

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