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Friday, April 1, 2011

Frost Protection: Clear Plastic Cups and a Drop Cloth

The night temperature dropped into the mid to upper 20's for 7 consecutive days (so far). The plants I am protecting are kholrabi, kales, chinese broccoli, lettuce, and chard. These are cold weather crops. The leaves can even freeze. In fact the chard had frozen through the cups several times and so did the lettuce. They are doing fine.

The key to cold weather crops is to not let the roots freeze at the point where the leaves form. The plastic cups I used at night I also kept on during the days to create a heated micro climate.  I took them off every third day to let the moisture and humidity out. At night I used a plastic painter's drop cloth to cover everything. I put the drop cloth on around 5 pm. Some day temperatures just broke 40, I kept the drop cloth on there 1 or 2 times for a full day. This created some heat for the bed. It did this on full sun days.

This method saves a few degrees of heat. That is all you need.

I only had to protect one main bed. The plastic sheet is a painter's drop cloth from Home Depot. It was under $5. It is translucent. It only allows some light to pass through it. If it was totally clear plastic, you would run the risk of over heating the plants and killing them. 

I just covered the whole bed with the sheet and used the tomato cages to weight it down.

I still have three days until the temperature gets to the upper 30's at night.

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