For the 2018 freeze tonight, to cover or not to cover is the question. The forecasted low for Guthrie, Oklahoma, tomorrow morning is 24°F according to Oklahoma’s Mesonet. The state of the rest of the state isn’t much better. We’ve already had two 32°F lows this week which killed off some foliage, but it wasn’t a disaster.
I’ve lamented about tomorrow’s low all week on my Instagram feed. I’m surprised anyone still follows me. I keep showing pretty pictures and telling myself and the rest of the world it’s going to be okay, and part of me believes that. Rain began falling about midday.
So, again, to cover or not to cover. My garden is about an acre and a half these days. I’m not worrying about anything near the house. If you decide to cover, whatever you use should either reach the ground so that the heat from the earth–which should be pretty good, it was 70°F yesterday–can rise up to the top of the plant. Or, alternatively, you can cover and string lights in the branches of small trees–anything to raise the temperature.
I used to try to cover everything. Does anyone remember the freeze on May 2, 2010? Here’s where I wrote about the best freeze covers in 2013. I still have those up in the barn, and I placed them on the potager. I have peas already an inch or so tall so they will need some protection. I also have lettuce, spinach, kale and Swiss chard to protect. I also put down the tops on the cold frames. I had bamboo teepees in them for the sweet peas I planted in there, but I pulled them out and put them on the ground.
Then, there was the freeze on April 13, 2014. I wrote about the garden the day before. Well, the garden looks almost the same now, and I’m pretty bummed about tomorrow’s forecast. If you garden in Oklahoma, I bet you are too, but let’s not panic.
I will not cover my peach or apple trees. I don’t want to string lights, and I don’t want to get out all of my blankets and sheets. I hardly ever get fruit from my fruit trees anyway because a freeze almost always spoils them. It’s okay. I’m going to let those go. Now, I will be covering the new roses. I think they’re too young to handle such a drastic temperature change. I’ll also cover the new, small Acer palmatum ‘Orangeola’ I bought the other day. It’s been trying to leaf out, and I need to protect it because it’s a baby in my garden. It was also expensive.
I didn’t run out there to cover until after the rain because I wanted it to soak into the soil surrounding the plants. With rain or snow cover, you have a lot better chance at saving your plants. Then, I ran outside and placed large pots over the single plants I covered and used the row tunnels in the veggie garden.
It’s the best I can do under the circumstances. Now, I want to hear from you. Will you cover, or will you not? How will you prioritize who gets to live or die or be severely stunted for a couple of months? Did you heed my warnings about warm-weather plants on social media? If not, no worries, I’ve done that too in the past. You can replace them.
It’s like a triage moment for Oklahoma and Tennessee, and I hear Kansas has it worse. Good luck everyone. Remember, even if we lose a few plants, the garden will come back into beauty again. It will just take awhile.