When the primary frost warnings got here out for the third week of October, did you end up regularly checking the prolonged climate forecast, hoping there had been some mistake? Who needs to surrender recent tomatoes and long-stemmed dahlias earlier than Halloween, for crying out loud?
As soon as once more, the meteorologists have been proper. With an early chilly entrance quick approaching, I discovered myself flying out the door simply earlier than sunset with all of the outdated blankets, sheets and tablecloths I may discover. Tossing them over my pots of tender annuals, I hoped to purchase extra time earlier than lastly dealing with that lengthy checklist of duties that come on the finish of each gardening season. For somebody who talks about frost as a lot as I do, you’ll suppose I’d be higher ready. However I’ve turn into an skilled frost dodger, and as soon as once more, a disaster was averted in my hilltop backyard that evening.
I had time to take cuttings of annuals like begonia, coleus and plectranthus. I lifted tender succulents from their combined containers and repotted them individually. They’ll hold the annuals firm till spring on open shelving in a cool spare bed room that will get a number of hours of morning solar. Even a west- or south-facing glassed space has solely the sunshine depth in winter of a shady outside space in the summertime. These crops positively lose their luster spending an extended winter in imperfect indoor rising situations, however so long as I can hold them alive, there’s a very good probability I can revive them within the spring to reside on for one more season.
However there’s nonetheless extra work to do. Today, virtually something goes in containers, together with small bushes and shrubs, conifers and herbaceous perennials. Hardy crops left exterior in pots will want safety if they’re to make it by means of a Yakima winter.
One of the simplest ways to assist crops survive is to decide on the precise varieties from the beginning. I backyard in USDA Zone 6a, and perennials rated hardy to at least one or two zones colder (Zone 4 or 5) have the very best probability for overwintering right here in a container. For the reason that soil in a pot is colder than the soil within the backyard, a plant’s roots (the least hardy half) are extra susceptible to damage and loss of life. We’ve all seen how the roots of container crops are inclined to circle across the skinny partitions of the pot. Roots on this setting freeze sooner, and usually tend to endure harm as they thaw and refreeze as temperatures change. Massive pots with a big soil mass give crops a greater probability of surviving than small ones.
One other approach of defending outside container crops is to maneuver them into an unheated shed or storage with average mild. Water simply sufficient to maintain the soil from utterly drying out, and no fertilizing. The hot button is to take care of a fair temperature, ideally simply above freezing, the place crops are stored chilly and alive, however not actively rising.
Should you can’t deliver them in, strive clustering the pots in a sheltered space close to the home or storage. In a northern or japanese publicity, temperatures have a tendency to remain pretty secure. A southern publicity can heat up container soil on a sunny winter’s day, and when it refreezes at evening, the roots can endure. Set the containers on soil fairly than pavement, which may additionally warmth up within the solar. After exterior temperatures dip into the 20s for a number of consecutive nights, overlaying the containers with a protecting layer of straw, leaves and even snow can present further safety.
Another choice, although not notably fairly, works for crops which are too large to maneuver or group collectively. Wrap the container in bubble wrap or an outdated blanket, and drop a cardboard field with each ends reduce out over the bundle. Including straw between the wrapping and container provides further insulation.
In case your containers are sufficiently small, they’ll get essentially the most safety in the event you bury them as much as their rims within the floor, maybe within the empty vegetable backyard. After it will get very chilly, cowl the realm with a layer of mulch.
Should you’re a procrastinator like me, the excellent news is that there’s nonetheless time to strive any of those methods. Wait till crops are absolutely dormant, often after temperatures have dropped beneath freezing for a number of successive nights. Whatever the technique you utilize, go away the crops protected till spring and all hazard of chilly damage has handed. Though there’s no assure that any potted plant will survive exterior in a Yakima winter, it might be price a strive.
Carol Barany and her husband, John, discovered paradise on 11∕3 acres simply west of Franklin Park, the place they raised three kids and have become Grasp Gardeners. Contact her at email@example.com.