Wilson A. Bentley attached a camera to his microscope in 1885 and figured out how to photograph snowflakes. This 1890 photo resides at the Smithsonian.
When the weather finally turns cold many questions come about how to protect plants. It's not that big a deal – it's supposed to get cold but here are a few tips.
- Dry plants are vulnerable so water before cold snaps arrive. The best policy is to keep a reasonable moisture level in the soil all the time. Then you are ready when the weather dramatically changes.
- Plants that are growing in containers are more at risk than plants in the ground. There is a difference of about 10 degrees of winter hardiness between plants in pots and those in the ground. Large trash bags, trash cans, or plastic sheets will give about 5 degrees protection. Floating row cover placed over the ornamental plants or vegetables will give the same protection and doesn't have to be removed immediately after the cold event. Being organic and spraying Garrett Juice or any mix that contains seaweed will additional freeze protection.
- Disconnect hoses from faucets. Wrap exposed pipes. Drain all gardening equipment that holds water.
- The most tender plants need to be brought into protection at least during the worst weather.
- Greenhouse heat sources should be checked and back-up heat sources should be in place in case of power outage.
Icy Roads & Walkways. Misinformed folks start throwing rock salt, table salt, ice cream salt and high salt fertilizers out to try to prevent slipping on ice. These techniques and products are bad. They are bad for the soil, bad for the plants, bad for the water causes and bad for the environment in general. Here in Texas, concrete sand is primarily used by the Texas highway department and seems to do a good job on highways and is non-polluting. Some work has been done in Texas and other states with magnesium products and other non-toxic choices. What we recommend for home and commercial office building use is lava sand or granite sand. These material are not only non-toxic, they are good for the soil, and the plants as they are washed or swept from the paving into lawns, right of ways and other planting areas. Sure, the sand products can be tracked inside but so can the salts and toxic products. Give it a try – it works very well.
Tip for walking on ice:
Tube socks turned inside out (rough side out) pull socks over shoes. Gives traction for walking.
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