Things are getting chilly out there, and for those who live in colder climates the first frost is likely on the ground. The hot question of the day for gardeners is how to keep your plants warm.
If you have very sensitive plants like orange trees or rosemary, you can gradually transition them inside for the winter. Start by placing them near a warm door and then move them into a cold part of the house like the garage. Yes, this may shock the plant, but it provides a few extra degrees in the colder season. Plants that love tropical or Mediterranean temperatures will usually die off in cold winters anyway, so it’s worth a try.
Plants love sweaters, but the traditional wool sweater gets a little muddy in the cold, wet weather. Take a look at the usual frost date in your area and plan to move plants into cozy sweaters at least a week before the average frost. To create a plant sweater, get some burlap. Get burlap bags or landscaping burlap from a hardware or garden store. Craft burlap tends to be more expensive. Wrap up well-planted but delicate plants like bananas so that they will be a few degrees warmer. This will help them survive the winter.
No burlap? Try chicken wire and leaves. Place a tube of wire around sensitive berry bushes and make it into a leafy cage. Put leaves inside the wire enclosure and add tough plastic around the outside to prevent moisture from entering the enclosure. The leaves will act as insulation for your berry bushes.
Leaves also act as a good mulch for shorter garden plants. Place crunchy leaves over top of the plants and they will act as a humus-creator. They also add warmth to your garden beds. Beds that are underneath leaves can be one or two degrees warmer than those that are not, and sometimes those few degrees make all the difference.
As gardeners, we’re not all rule-followers. In fact, one of the delights of gardening is breaking whatever rule you have in mind and trying new things. You fall in love with a plant and you get it, only to discover that it is not hardy in your climate. For those of us who love to break the gardening zone rules, there are ways to cope. It just takes a little time.