[NAFEX] Freeze-Frost Protection

hector black hblack1925 at fastmail.fm
Tue Apr 3 18:43:38 EDT 2007

    Our experience has been bad with plastic or sheets.  We find Reemay to be the best - double it to give a little more protection.  Seems to give a few degrees.  Water in milk jugs also helps if you can keep it inside the Reemay.   Greetings!
    Hector Black, zone 6 middle TN
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Richard Moyer 
  To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org 
  Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2007 4:29 PM
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Freeze-Frost Protection

  Bill asks:
  "Well, they're still forecasting mid-20's here for the next five nights,
  so I bought some visqueen-type plastic and also some clear 55 gal.
  plastic bags (commercial bags for 55-gal drums). I thought I'd put TWO 
  plastic bags (for the insulating layer of air) over the bushes and very
  small trees, and TWO sheets of clear plastic over the larger fruit
  trees, grapes, etc.  I hoped that would insulate them well enough, and I 
  figured that, since the clear plastic would let light through, I could
  put them on today and take them off next Sunday."

  "However, I just talked to the master gardeners at my county extension
  service, and they tell me that plastic is the last thing I should use, 
  because plants need to breathe. They said that this would do more damage
  to my plants than the freeze. Is that true?"

  "I really can't remove all this every morning and install it again every
  night. Maybe I could take them off for a breather after a few days? Or I
  could loosen the plastic at the bottom every morning, to let some air in
  during the day. What do you think? I really need some advice here,
  because I'm all set to start working on this stuff. Do I need to worry
  about my fruit trees and bushes not getting enough air for 5-6 days?"

  In my experience with spring freezes, breathable fabric works much better than plastic in protecting plants from frosts and freezes.  We use old sheets, sheer curtain fabric, polypropylene row cover, etc.  The first two can be found at second hand stores.  Layers of light fabric create dead air space more reliably than sheets of plastic, when draping over bushes.  A single layer of fabric protects strawberry blooms from frost and light freezes, under our conditions. 

  Many fruiting plants (not all) have the ability to rebloom if blooms or bloom buds are frozen.  Remember that these plants are genetically programmed to reproduce.  If I lose 70-90% of my pear, peach and nectarine blooms and recently set fruit, that would be a blessing in terms of later thinning. 

  We, too are predicted to have 5 nights at or below freezing, with mid 20s included.  I look forward to this as test conditions to ID which fruiting plants handle such conditions and still deliver a crop.  Those are the ones I want to plant more of and recommend to others.  The ones that need to be covered and coddled, I'd rather know it sooner than later and phase them out. 

  Richard Moyer
  East TN
  Where the gooseberries, currants and juneberries laugh at spring freezes.



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