So!… in April we had a real surprise! Not only snow, but a heavy frost to follow. How does mother nature cope with newly sprouting plants, shrubs and trees? …and how can we help?
It might seem surprising, but damp soil holds warmth a lot easier than dry soil and watering during the daytime is the best time to do this.
We all know covering plants is a great trick and if possibly moving them inside for further protection works better. Buckets, cloches, old plant pots or even light weight material (so as to not weigh down or damage the plant), cardboard boxes, straw or cutting the bottom off 2 litre bottles to form a cover are all excellent methods of protection.
When frost damage does occur, remove the damaged growth once you are certain frosts have passed and prune to a healthy bud. If root damage occurs (particularly in perennials) split the plant and remove any harm plus you have the bonus of more plants!!! …remember to use fertilizer too to help them recover.
Frost pockets are low lying areas where most harm is done to plants, and cold is collected up against fences or confined areas. Leaving gaps in fences can reduce this and there are some plants you can grow in these areas if necessary.
This process is a gradual process and a bit like helping a toddler to walk, nurturing plants so they can adapt to the harsh world outside.
Wind, rain and variation in temperature are all harsh elements plants need to become accustomed to.
Seedlings are young and an hour or two each day to get them acclimatised is best but be flexible as plants vary greatly in how long this takes and can take one or two weeks or even longer! Intermediate areas (greenhouses and cold frames) can be used to move seedlings from indoors.