Tips for keeping your garden healthy during a frost

Expert gardeners say it’s important to cover plants to prevent frost damage. Here are some tips for keeping gardens healthy during cool weather.

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 6:21 a.m.

Cool weather this spring has caused some plants to bloom late, and unseasonable frost could mean more delays.

Here are some expert gardeners’ tips for keeping your garden healthy during cool and rainy weather:

  • Christie Egendoerfer, assistant garden center manager at Linton’s Enchanted Gardens, said she has been telling gardeners to cover their annuals or hold off on planting. Annual plants need to be covered to prevent frost damage.
  • If gardeners don’t want to use covers, Egendoerfer said, they could also get up early and spray frost off their plants with water. “When the frost and the sunlight hit each other, that’s when it starts the damage,” she said.
  • Jeff Burbrink, coordinator of the local Purdue Master Gardener Program, advised against using plastic covers for gardens. Cloth covers work best, he said.
  • Burbrink also said placing a jug of warm water under a blanket can help contain the heat and prevent frost damage to gardens.
  • It’s better to let garden soil dry out after a rain before turning it. Soils with high clay and silt content are likely to harden “like cement” unless they’re turned at the right time, Burbrink said. “Go for the chocolate cake feel,” he said. “When it’s as moist as chocolate cake, that mushy feeling, that’s what you’re going for. Not too wet, not too dry.”

Burbrink said the growing season has been delayed about two weeks due to the weather this year.

“After that rotten winter, everyone’s excited to be planting something,” he said. “It’s just great to see green again.”

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