- Author: Kathy Low
Now that rain has returned to Solano County and the nights are chilly, it's time to get prepared to protect your plants from upcoming freezes. Just a reminder there are a few simple steps you can take now to protect frost-sensitive plants from damage or death due to freezing temperatures. These steps include having something on hand to cover plants during a freeze. This includes things like row covers, sheets, burlap, and blankets. Just remember if you use something heavy like a blanket to cover your plants, you need to use some type of support, like a tomato cage, to keep it from weighing down on the foliage, allowing for greater airflow. Plus, if the cover gets wet, it could lead to even colder temperatures near the foliage. The cover should be placed over the foliage just before the sunsets. The cover should be removed during the day to allow the foliage to absorb sunlight and for the sun to recharge the heat in the soil.
Since bare soil radiates more heat than soil covered with weeds, mulch, and other ground covers, you should keep the soil around the trunks of frost-sensitive trees free of ground cover. Moist soil also retains heat better than dry soil. You should irrigate the soil two to three days in advance of a freeze so it maintains the proper water content for maximum absorption of solar radiation. But avoid watering your plants right before a freeze because if the surface is wet, it increases evaporation and the energy loss from the evaporation counterbalances the benefit of better solar radiation absorption.
You can also wrap the trunks of young frost-sensitive trees in things like foam pipe insulation and cardboard.
And if possible, move frost-sensitive plants closer to your home since buildings radiate heat they absorb during the day.