First Big Freeze of the Winter

We’re expecting the first low freeze tonight. 20 something, brrrrrr! So, we have to get ready. We’ve had a lot of leaf fall, which can be bunched up around potted plants outside for added insulation, 002then covered with plastic. 016
Here’s my list:
0. Gather organic matter for mulching such as autumn leaves, pine straw, or straw. I put mine in large construction grade heavy duty bags from Home Depot – Hefty brand. They can be re-used over and over as many as 20 times before they start to be too full of holes or shredded to be useful as a bag. Then I use them to line bins or other uses.007
1. Check moisture content of all beds to be secured for freeze, water if necessary.
2. Drain all the outside water lines and bring in the watering wands (they tend to break if left out in the cold), wind the hoses onto their carts.
3. Put extra mulching around the bases of all the annual plants, and any recently planted perennials which didn’t get extra mulch already.008
4. Bring all the unplanted trees, bushes, and other perennial plants into a circle and surround them with bagged up autumn leaves – cover with clear plastic and secure.  022
5. Dig in any kitchen waste in un-planted beds and cover with soil – they will be planted again once we have a warm day. Then cover open areas with mulch. 009
6. Harvest any greens needed in the next several days from annual beds.
7. Harvest hard perennial herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, lemon verbena, Echinacea roots, etc. for later processing.

8. Lay tomato cages on their sides, alternating direction down the length of the beds, carefully placing them around existing plants.

Click pictures to enlarge.

9. Bring in any of the plants which are tender perennials or warm weather plants, and place by the window where they can get some sun, including seedlings not yet planted.
10. Rake un-planted beds smooth and mulch with autumn leaves so the mulch can be pushed aside for later plantings, but are protected from freeze meanwhile.015
11. Bring out clear or white plastic sheeting and roll it out for sizing to be placed on beds, organize for best use.
12 Carefully lay sheeting over tomato cages, secure with one-cell cinder blocks around the perimeter, and use bricks or rocks over path ways here and there if sheeting covers them, to avoid wind catching the sheets and blowing them off. 021
13. Neaten the area, bringing in plastic planters and stacking them, raking up spilled soils or leaves around staging areas, securing any un-used plastic sheeting, etc.
14. One last check making sure sufficient coverage of all annual areas including containers and back deck area and side of house where some perennials are living, and securing with bricks or other weights to prevent blow-offs.

15. We don’t have a riding mower or tractor, or other outdoor machinery here at Hillside Gardens, but if you do, empty the gas tanks, including warm only weather stuff like chain saws or chippers, clean out the tanks, and if you have an equipment shed, bring in the machinery, or if not, cover with heavy tarp.
Watch the weather in your area. If the temperature gets into the 30s’ even if it doesn’t say it will freeze, prepare your garden for a long freeze anyway. Water pipes burst, watering wands are destroyed, tender perennials freeze and die, annuals which aren’t sufficiently cold hardy will be lost, and losses occur. But if sufficient preparation is done while it’s still above freezing, the garden can keep producing, and your equipment will be secure. If you have mowers you can run them over leaves and catch them for great mulch.
I purchase rolls of white 3.3 mil plastic sheeting from Home Depot for around $20. It’s a big sheet which I usually cut up into wide strips for rows. They also have clear sheeting in smaller rolls for about $13 which works well too, 3.5 mil. This sheeting lasts several seasons.
When the weather warms up between cold spells, if the temperature goes above about 65 F, I roll the sheeting back because it holds onto heat and cold weather annuals don’t like it too hot.
Who says you can’t grow all year long. You don’t need a green house, just some ingenuity.
Here is the winterized growing area within a deer fence, with screen panels strengthening the base of the netting. This area will grow a tremendous amount of greens and cold weather vegetables this winter – yum.

Annual garden area surrounded by deer netting and panels of window screen. The beds are all covered, secured with bricks and cinder blocks. The foreground is the staging area soon to be organized. 

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One Response to First Big Freeze of the Winter

  1. Maggie Robertson says:

    Wow! And as I was reading this I wondered out loud whether we had turned off our water or not and now Ernst is scampering around doing just that!! Tremendous amount of work and organization you do there- looks really great! Can’t remember what I wrote last time, so forgive any repeats! I had a mole removed in my armpit- had it forever but seemed it was time for it to go. Had 2 cysts removed, near the vaginal area so that was kind of creepy getting them removed! One was about the size of a large pea, full of fatty stuff. I get all the stitches out Wednesday and glad enough to get that out of my way. I keep at all my cycles, make a bit of headway…. other things have been interfering to some degree and that’s when I just have to keep at it!I fret only because I leave again for Geneva soon and will stay to audit my daughter/law. Still need to decide when to go to Flag and then book flights… And you- getting ready for Christmas? body behaving? Take care! Love Maggie

    On Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 8:26 PM, The Garden Lady of Georgia wrote:

    > didirks posted: ” We’re expecting the first low freeze tonight. 20 > something, brrrrrr! So, we have to get ready. We’ve had a lot of leaf fall, > which can be bunched up around potted plants outside for added > insulation, then covered with plastic. Here’s my list: 0. Gather ” >

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