Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Frost Alert!

This spate of good weather so early in spring has us aching to get into our gardens. I have primrose blooming and azaleas and daffodils, as well.

In anticipation of the rain that was forecast, I fertilized my lawn on Friday. Now is a good time to put down fertilizer with a pre-emergent weed control, to prevent crabgrass and other annual weeds. If you are an organic gardener, corn gluten makes an excellent weed preventor and fertilizer. When the corn gluten becomes wet it forms a gelatinous mass that smothers the newly germinated weed (and other) seeds.

It’s still too early to plant, tho a quick look through the garden centers last weekend showed forsythia and azaleas for sale. If you just can’t wait, and remember Countryside’s annual flat sale is coming up in a couple of weeks, there is a new product out protects tender plants from frost damage. It is called Freeze Pruf and it is from the Liquid Fence people. Freeze Pruf acts like anti-freeze for your plants. It is a spray on systemic that lowers the freezing point of the plant by 2-9 degrees or the equivalent of half a hardiness zone. It doesn’t make all plants hardy to 32̊ but if the plant is hardy to 40̊ it will lower that to around 38̊ to 31̊. Or if the plant is hardy to Zone 5, it will make the plant hardy to zone 4B. Once applied it will last 6-8 weeks. Freeze Pruf will not protect an impatien from a hard frost but it will keep pansies flowers from frost damage. So use it with caution, but here is another tool to help extend our growing season.

Other things you can do to prevent frost damage, keeping in mind that our last average frost date is around the middle of May, is to cover your plants with a sheet or towel or even a cardboard box. Don’t use plastic as this will transfer the cold to any leaves or flowers that are touching the plastic. You could even use a tomato cage as a frame and hang the fabric over it to protect your plants.

Don’t forget that Kim Hartmann and Ann Larson will be giving presentations at Garden Fest this coming weekend at McHenry County College. Countryside will also have a booth and will be able to answer any questions for you.