With our current mild temperatures, it can be difficult to visualize the forecast 50 degree drop in temperature and snow that await us Wednesday night. But we saw it happen a few years ago and know that our green gardens may become limp puddles of frozen plant material, and that worse, since trees and shrubs have not dropped their foliage yet their branches may break under their weight of the snow. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to mitigate damage.
SHRUBS and TREES – These in-leaf plants are the most vulnerable to damage as the wet and heavy snow can break their branches. To help prevent this, knock the snow off the plant periodically. If possible, do so by knocking the under-side of the branch rather than striking downward on the plant.
SMALL SHRUBS – Valuable, young woody perennials and shrubs, such as Daphne, can be protected by covering with over-turned plant pots to help protect their branches from breaking.
PERENNIALS – Following the snow storm, it’s fine to leave the remaining plant material.
COOL SEASON VEGGIES – To minimize damage, harvest your kale, chard, spinach, etc. as desired, then cover the remaining in-ground plant with a couple layers of Ensulate Row Cover fabric. Large over-turned plant pots, stuffed with bubble-wrap will suffice as well. The snow on top of the fabric and/or pots will also help to insulate the plant. We have used plant pots are available for sale at low prices.
TOMATOES – If your tomato plants are still bearing fruit, pull the tomato plant and it’s roots out of the ground and hang it upside-down in a frost-free place such as a heated garage, where much of the fruit should continue to ripen. If this isn’t possible, harvest your fruit and let it ripen on a window sill. So long as the tomato is showing some lightening of the green flesh to pale green or white, it will likely ripen.