As Colorado gardeners, we’ve come to expect snow in October (in 2019 it was October 10). But on September 9, 2020 we saw a temperature swing of more than 60 degrees, going from record-breaking heat to one of the earliest recorded snow falls in the state (the earliest recorded area snowfall was in 1961 when Denver received over 4″ of snow on Labor Day).
This translates into a lot of flower, fruit, and vegetable crops cut short, and a lot of unanticipated work protecting vulnerable plants, harvesting, and preserving. There are measures you can take now to be prepared to protect your gardens from cold weather and snow when they arrive, suddenly or not. The following tools, techniques, and ‘props’ can make the difference between life and untimely death of your plants during inclement weather.
ENSULATE ROW-COVER FABRIC
Row Cover gives plants a few valuable degrees of warmer temperature. Use it over hoops or garden tunnel frames, or the fabrics can be “floated” over your plants, using clothes pins and weights of various kinds to keep them in place. When handled gently, these fabrics can last several seasons.
Harlequin’s Gardens sells pre-cut or custom-cut lengths of row cover fabric in two weights: ‘Seed Guard’ (.5oz) and Ensulate (1.5 oz). Ensulate can easily last several years. We are sure you will find that row cover fabric is one of your most important and versatile garden tools! Both row cover fabric weights are offered in pre-cut 12’x6’ or 12’x12’ dimensions.
LARGE OVERTURNED NURSERY POTS
Large plastic planting pots are a treasure worth holding on to! They are an easy and effective means of protection from cold temperatures by providing a space for warm air to collect, and as a barrier from snow (and hail, if you’re fast enough to beat the storm!). To add an extra layer of insulation, stuff the bottom of the pot with bubble wrap before placing it over the plant. Remember to uncover your plants as the temperatures warm back up!
If you don’t have a supply of large pots, stop by soon. We will be selling a limited number of used extra-large 7-to-15-gallon pots for $10 to $20.
SAWHORSES & PLANKS OR PLYWOOD SHEETS
If you have a larger area of lower profile plants that you’d like to protect from being smashed by the snow, set up 2 sawhorses and put planks or sheet plywood over them. You can then even attach a large tarp to the end to expand the coverage area. Be sure to place something heavy on the corners of the plywood and the tarp to secure the edges. In addition, you can support the center of the tarp with a bamboo stake. Topping the stake with an old tennis ball will prevent it the stake from punching through your tarp.
WATER PRIOR TO A HARD FREEZE
Damp soil holds four times more heat than dry soil, so make a point to water your plants (except desert plants) thoroughly during the day before an evening frost is predicted. This technique is effective in tandem with any of the aforementioned tools.