How to Protect Vegetable Plants From Frost
Although vegetable plants grow in any type of climate, it's necessary to protect them once frost arrives. Typically, frost forms on cold, clear, calm nights throughout the winter and the spring. Several strategies will protect your vegetable plants, whether they're in a garden or in outdoor planters.
Bring your vegetable plants indoors if they are in transportable planters. Place them in a sunny corner or on a windowsill if possible—which will help protect the plants from frost while still providing sunshine. Because of indoor heating, mist the plants with water every two days to protect the leaves and vegetables.
If plants are in the ground, spread 3 inches of straw or shredded bark around the base of the vegetable plants in the fall season to prepare for winter frosts. This task will keep heat in the soil around the plants, as well as prevent weeds.
Water the plants in the hottest part of the day before an expected frost, then lay more mulch on top, which will preserve the moisture in the soil, helping heat rise up on colder nights to warm up the plants.
Cover tender vegetable plants with sheets or blankets, tucking the ends underneath each plant to prevent frost damage to the leaves, stems and vegetables. You are technically creating tents to keep warm air in and cold air out. Make sure to place the tent over the plants before nightfall to help hold in heat from the day. Don't worry about carrots, cabbage, kale and other frost-hardy veggies. They produce extra sugars to fight cold.
Protect young spring sprouts in the vegetable garden with floating row covers by placing lightweight fabric on top of the plants late in the day.
Protect Garden Vegetables From Frost
Water the vegetable garden thoroughly within a day or two of the anticipated frost. Plants are less vulnerable to cold damage if they are healthy and not under drought stress. Also, the moisture in the soil can provide additional frost protection. Pound several wooden stakes into the ground around the vegetables you wish to protect, making sure that the tops of the stakes rise slightly above the tops of nearby plants. Cover small or isolated vegetable plants individually with a glass jar, plastic bucket, garbage can or similar container. Place buckets, old milk jugs or other containers filled with water under the protective covering to serve as a source of latent heat around the plants. Leaving any covering over plants during the day can cause them to overheat.
- Straw or shredded bark
- Blankets or sheets
- Floating row covers