©Jeanne E Webster
Being blessed this spring with warmer than usual temperatures, I started our garden early by planting the usual cold weather plants such as spinach and Swiss chard, along with starting tomatoes and cukes seed indoors. My family is ready to taste home-grown juicy vegetables after choking down the hard, tasteless store-bought’s all winter. Our small strawberry plot is plum full of blossoms and green berries just bursting with tantalizing energy, almost a month ahead of nature’s schedule.
Due to the past few years of enduring dismal weather patterns, I decided to slack off on the main garden area and convert to mostly container gardening. I thought this style of gardening would circumvent any surprises from weird weather. So much for that thought!
Last night, (also forecast for the next few nights), Mr. Frosty served up a few frosty freezers to our area. Aha! Always on top of things, (uh hum), I sifted through the mental catalog to thwart ole Mr. Icy and settled on covering the tomato plant containers, spread sheets over the strawberry patch and blessed the Swiss chard and spinach with a wind-blown smooch. Then I retired for the night and slept very well, thank you.
Up early and ready to go, I watched the news and weather forecast for the day. We had had a slight frost and some areas, especially those in the northern part of southern Illinois, an actual freeze was had by all. Out the back door I flew, coffee cup in hand and garden gloves a popping, and straight to the strawberry patch I ran. I drew back the old sheets and inspected the plants for damage. To my surprise, the sheeting was as stiff as starched shirt collars were forty years ago.
Well…I slowly mumbled some unsorted thoughts and returned to the house. The television weather man was giving some advice to early gardeners and my wrinkled ears perked up enough to grab the data. To prevent a hard frost or freeze on one’s garden plants, an excellent tip is to water, sprinkle, or mist them the night before a frost or freeze is expected. Hmm. Ok. Well, you know my thinker; it got me to wondering how water protects plants from freezing. Sooo…
I hopped on the computer and looked up “How does water protect plants from freezing?” In no time flat, or better known as quickly, the information came up that I was seeking.
“… a better option is actually to spray your plants with water. When water freezes, it releases heat (a little counterintuitive, I know, but that’s why you have to put water in a cold place to freeze it – you have to take away heat). So, if your plants have a thin layer of water on them that freezes, it actually helps keep them warmer. Additionally, the layer of ice, being a good insulator, will then help keep the plant warmer through the cold spell.” http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/2430/how-does-watering-your-plants-help-protect-against-freezing
Tonight I shall be watering my strawberry plants instead of “starching” them and will observe the results. The container plants will be covered as it is no problem. And I have done my civic duty and passed the word on to you. Be blessed…and enjoy your strawberries!