Sunday, 24 June 2007

June Garden Club Meeting

At our June Garden Club Meeting we discussed a very timely topic; FROST
We started with our roll call of which plants were killed by last years bad frosts and which if any of these had grown back.

Several of us had lost Pelargoniums and Ivy Geraniums but like mine most seemed to grow back as the weather warmed.
A few members told of damage to Myer Lemon trees but that these too had grown back but were noticeably ‘set back’ in their growth.

Even the tough old Daisy bushes suffered last year and only some of these re-grew. Another surprise was that a few Lavender bushes succumbed but after discussion we realised that these were the newer hybrid plants with the fancy, coloured flowers and not the tough old originals.

Other people had lost more tender plants that had in previous years grown quite well in the sheltered areas their owners provided but last year we had several frosts down to -8C or below and few of the more tender plants survive that sort of cold.

Later during the meeting we discussed our methods of frost protection;
many of the members admitted to resorting to praying that their plants would survive and doing little else... also that swearing at the frost doesn’t help either!

We all agreed that it is easiest not to grow frost sensitive plants in our area but there are always a couple that you feel you must have; so on a more constructive note ideas included:
  • Covering tender plants with blankets, towels or newspaper for a short term remedy
  • Mulching quite heavily with pea straw (almost covering the plant)
  • Foliar feeding plants every 2 weeks with seaweed mixtures to help strengthen the plants at a cellular level making them more resistant to the damage frost can inflict.
  • Potting up more susceptible plants and sheltering them by house walls and even in sheds seems to help
  • Also spraying with a fine mist of water first thing in the morning before the sun strikes them can lessen the damage caused but as most members said the hoses are often frozen solid, we agreed this is probably a job for a pressure sprayer or even a watering can with a fine rose spray attachment.
Ideas about the flow of frost and sheltering plants beneath tree canopies were also discussed.
Also using tyres, rock walls or straw bales in an arc on the south side (the cold side) to trap the warmth from the sun and also using water in containers to lessen the impact of frost. I included my use of 44 gallon drums of water situated beneath Apricot trees to stop frost damage after flowering in Spring.

This worked in my garden last year when a late frost wiped out most of the commercial Apricot crops in SA and Victoria.

This active discussion proved yet again that we don’t always need guest speakers as everyone shared information and we all learned a few hints I think. I know I did!

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