Preparing the garden for winter: protecting and mulching low-growing plants
The unpredictable winter in our latitudes is a serious challenge. Both for heat-loving plants and for inexperienced gardeners. Especially after a wet summer.
Plenty of moisture causes plants to linger, and unfortunately, they may not have time to shelter before the frosts come, which threatens serious damage. But in favorable years, you need to help the plants prepare for winter with normal rainfall.
Protecting young seedlings
When is it necessary to prepare for winter?
It should start in the second half of August. First, nitrogen fertilizers are excluded from the feeding, as they stimulate active growth of the seedlings. Apply only phosphorus and potassium, which are responsible for the winter hardiness and stability of plants. In September, stop the absence and loosening of the soil, which also takes away the growth of new shoots. And in late October – early November, they begin to cover.
What needs to be covered?
First of all, all young plantings of the current year and especially in the fall. The resistant varieties of roses, rhododendrons, clematis, hydrangeas require mandatory placement. Stems of young fruit trees are covered, bushes are bent to the floor, herbaceous plants mulch the floor around bushes with them. Shrubs with fragile shoots, such as evergreen rhododendrons, are the most difficult to cover. For such plants, special frameworks are built, in which dry leaves are poured, and the shelter is stuffed with waterproof materials on top.
Herbaceous perennials, which die off all their above-ground parts in autumn, winter better. Their buds develop on underground parts (rhizomes, bulbs, tubers) in soil, so they practically do not suffer from frosts. However, in some plants, such as phloxenum, geichera, primrose, rhizoma, it grows vertically and in the process of growth its upper part, in which the buds are located, is laid the next year. Such plants need to be tinted in the fall, that is, pour substrate to the base of the bush.
Snow is the best protection for undirected plants
The best protection that nature has taken care of is, of course, snow. Under the snow cover, the temperature usually does not fall below e-5 ° C, and if the winter is cold and snowy, no covering material will not save the system before freezing. Therefore, experienced gardeners arrange snow retarders on their plots, install shields or branches next to particularly valuable plants that accumulate by the snow.
It is bad when the snow turns into an ice crust after thawing, preventing air exchange. Spruce is used to create an air gap over the plants. It also protects plants from sunlight and overheating in the spring.
Protecting grapevine lines
Fallen leaves as a cover
Healthy foliage that is not damaged by disease is also suitable as a covering material. Oak is best – it does not rot itself, and its tannins protect other plants from it. But the leaves must be dry, and you can cover them only in dry weather. This means that the leaves must be harvested in advance and stored dry (e.g. in bags indoors). In addition, once the plants are protected, they need to be waterproof and have fresh air flow, i.e. they have to be covered with a waterproof foil and have ventilation holes attached to the side.
Protecting with non-woven fabrics
Non-woven fabrics such as lutrasil are not suitable as a winter cover. They trap water and heat, causing the plants to overheat and dry out. It is better to use burlap and heavy paper to protect conifers from spring fires.
Covering with pink fleece
Covering plants for the winter
Mowing is also one way to protect plants in the winter. Around the base of the bush is poured earth mound height of 15-20 cm, mostly with perennials, also protect the root wreaths of roses, summer lilacs and wagelas from frost. Simple garden soil is good for hilling, but it is better to take humus or peat – they are calmer and increase the fertility of the soil well.
When should plants be planted to prepare for winter?
Plant out after nighttime temperatures drop below zero degrees. But be careful not to freeze the floor.
Stick roses for the winter.
Protective furlough of small hardy plants
There are no strict deadlines for leaf placement. The main thing is that the weather is dry and air exchange is possible under the cover.
Lapnick is covered only when stable cold weather is established (not lower e-8 ° C) and a light ice crust is formed on the floor. Considering that many people come to their plots once a week, it is very difficult to calculate the time of stay. So if you want to create an easy-care “weekend garden”, give preference to hardy plants.
How to cover the floor? Make plants winter hardy.
As always, winter comes suddenly. This year the frost came before the snow fell. But it’s really hard to predict what the weather will be like over the next three months. It may turn out that winter will bring little or no snow. And this is dangerous because the soil can freeze to a very deep depth, which destroys most or even all of the root system of most crops. Frost (a short-term drop in temperature) itself is not dangerous if the snow has not yet fallen: the ground does not have time to freeze. Terrible are frosts of minus 13 – 15 degrees, which hold for several days in a row without snow. If the above-ground part has adapted to the strong cold, the roots (even in hardy crops) die in such conditions. And having frosted the roots, the plant will no longer be able to regenerate root growth. It is necessary to begin protection if the soil freezes to a depth of 3 – 5 cm. If you hurry, the plants may rot or be infected with a fungal infection. For a successful winter, each perennial plant must survive a frost of minus 4 to 7 degrees without cover. Finally, all the top soil is an indicator that “tells” the root system what is going on upstairs and what to prepare for.
Very often in winter plants die not so much from severe frosts as from temperature fluctuations during thaws. It is the unstable weather with sharp changes that causes excessive freezing and waterlogging of the soil.
A sheltered plant can also die. After all, covering is not a panacea, but only one method to help increase the winter hardiness of plants. It is necessary to protect plantings from severe frosts, sudden changes in temperature, sunburn, the crown when snow builds up, icing and windfall.
The question of how and what to cover plants for the winter, acutely stands before every gardener. There are many special materials for covering plants, but this does not mean you needn’t worry if you wrap bushes, trees, or flowers in a thick layer of dense fabric. Unlike us, plants are not warm-blooded creatures. And while we can keep warm by wearing a fur coat, it is useless to wrap them up. In winter, heat comes from the ground, and in order for the shelter to give a comfortable temperature, we need to reduce heat loss through heat island materials. And the lower the protection, the warmer it is.
First, you need to insulate the current year’s plantings. They are the most vulnerable, as they have not had time to root properly. The root strips of fruit trees and berry bushes are covered with a thick (15 – 20 cm) layer of humus. Warming the garden, you should not forget about the strawberry plantation. Some people simply pour it with water, literally wrenching the garden strawberries in the ice. The solution is simple, but unreliable: at the first thaw everything turns into water. You can throw more spruce paws or twigs on the bed for better traction with snow, or spread uncovering shelter material. Such protection will work, and strawberries will be reliably protected in a snowy winter. Raspberries should be tied in bundles, which should then be ducked to the ground so that the bushes do not flatten.
There are many materials that can provide winter protection for plants. And each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. Improperly selected protective “cocoon” will lead to frosting of the root system, death of plants and lack of harvest.
Spruce and pine are rightly considered one of the best protective materials. Not only does it perfectly retain snow, but it also protects from strong frosts, cold winds, wet snow and freezing rain, as well as from ubiquitous rodents. In addition, spruce does not accumulate moisture like leaves and adapts well to the air. It does not increase its frost resistance, but under its reliable protection it creates ideal conditions for wintering plants. So, not only are the temperature changes perfectly smoothed out, but the scorching rays of the winter sun lose their destructive power. And the temperature below does not drop below minus 5 degrees, even in thirty-degree frosts.
But if there is no forest around, where to get a spruce? And another thing: the cutting of spruce and pine paws is permitted only from already felled trees, located in places of planned felling or sanitary purification. After all, along with a spruce from the forest to your site can easily bring a variety of pests and even an infection. Before you find yourself with them, carefully inspect pines and spruces: are they healthy? If the needles are rusty, yellowed, and the bark does not come off with small black growths and bare patches – they are sick. Also the disadvantage of spruce is that it is available. Yes, and collecting the needles, which are topped with spruce branches, is practically impossible. Meanwhile, it increases the acidity of the soil. Yes, in small doses it is not critical. But plants-calcephilic (prefers alkaline soils) and such causes minimal harm.
The shrub does not retain heat as much as it retains snow, which actually serves as protection from frost. It does not interfere with air exchange and does not rot in wet weather. It is convenient to use brushwood in regions where there are snow retarders. The vigorous bundles can be used as a windproof fence and for snow retention. But if frosts came without snow, the benefit of such protection will be little.
A good covering material and fallen leaves. It reliably protects the soil from the cold and serves as an excellent rainy worm, which in turn increases its fertility. But mice like to make their nests in leaves. In addition, leaves need to be properly prepared.
Wet leaves should never be covered with plantings. Creamy damp foliage does not hold up well in the air and retains moisture – as a result, the plant dies under it. In frosts it turns into an ice crust, and during thaws it does. For protected plants this is true death. Mildew, rot, harmful bacteria, maggots – this is an incomplete list of what a covering of leaves can protect against.
That’s why dried leaves are most often used to protect plants not alone but as part of a more complex insulating structure. For example, build over a plant base – a hut from liners or boards, fill it with leaves and cover it all with waterproofing material, not forgetting to think about ventilation.
Another disadvantage of using leaves as a covering material is the spring cleaning: a time-consuming, labor-intensive activity that requires a lot of effort and time. To avoid this, immediately put the collected dry leaves in mesh bags with small cells (they sell carrots, onions and other vegetables in them) and cover the plants directly with these bags. In the spring, take the makeshift shelters apart in a few minutes.
A good covering material is straw. It protects well from the cold and traps snow. But like leaves, it stores moisture and gets wet. Straw should be used only when dry and protected from moisture. If the winter is warm and damp, under the influence of moisture, loose straw can compact, bind, and form layers. Sometimes they rot, affected by mold. Of course, for plants protected by such materials, this is fraught with great problems. In winter, mice and other small rodents, pests and plant pathogens (fungi, microbes, viruses) like to nest in straw.
If there is a lot of straw, and no other covering material, it is better to make straw mats or shepherds from it. They are lightweight and do not put pressure on the plants. Crops stay dry among them. Yes, and the heat with frosts hold well. Water rolls down the surface (on the principle of a straw roof), not getting inside. But in the spring, the earth under the straw does not thaw itself. Because of the layer of straw ceiling, the sun’s rays cannot reach the floor, warm it and melt the ice. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the straw cover as early as possible.
Dried plant stems are also used for winter housing. In fact, it is the same straw with all its advantages and disadvantages. The only important thing to keep in mind: Not every stalk can be used for protection. It must be dry, healthy (no clumps, mold, diseased) and without seeds.
Flax sacking is also needed as a covering material. Tribes of young trees bind, conifers shade, protect from sunburn and other heat-loving plants. Bags used to be sewn from natural fabrics – now increasingly common are synthetic and even with a plastic house. Of course, they protect from water, but the plants in them are removed from the normal air exchange, and this is pleasing. However, traditional burlap is not without disadvantages. It not only lets moisture in, but also absorbs it. In wet weather, the fabric dries badly and turns into an icy bowl in the cold, which is not good for protected plants. Under the damp fabric, it creates a cheap environment for the development of rot and mold, and the air exchange is impaired. Combined, this can lead to plant death.
Most often, old bags in which vegetables were previously stored are used for protection. If they have not been properly treated, they can enter the pathogens of various infections. And even if you store clean bags in rooms with high humidity, pathogenic microflora sometimes develops on the fabric.
An excellent material for thermal insulation is op Ilka. It is not necessary to fill the plant with them: it is enough to mulch the floor. But wet sawdust squeezes and succeeds. Therefore, they should be placed so that they do not touch the shoots of the plant. The finer the sawdust, the better they absorb moisture. During thaws, damp sawdust shrinks and a crust is formed in the cold that does not burn. Like needles, you can affect the acidity of the soil. For some plants this can be critical. As straw prevents the warming of the soil, and if your plans do not include the development of plants, such protection should be removed as early as possible.
Peat is given the role of a good insulator with certain. First, it is not exactly “improvised material” – if only you have stocked it in advance. Secondly, a full-fledged protection from it all the same can not turn out, but it is excellent for a mound or mulch. True, peat affects the acidity of the soil, so it is not suitable for all plants, as well as needles and sawdust. And also peat is good at absorbing moisture, from which it compacts and loses some of its insulating properties. And if the peat protects under beds with sub-cimber plants and plantings, it is not critical, if Hillin g-Stauden, it may not be desirable.
The advent of nonwovens has made our lives much easier. Agrovolok conditionally protects plants from the cold. But it perfectly protects from dehydration, wind and winter sun, creating a microclimate. You should only choose a denser material – from 80g per 1m². Nonwovens were originally developed for countries with warm and snowy winters. In our harsh winters, when thaws alternate with severe frosts, such covers should be used very carefully. It happens that the plant stands in a wet and cold mantle all winter. And strong and cold winds and frosts easily turn it into an ice shell. To avoid all these negative consequences, build a framework, on which you will stretch agrofiber.
Cut boards, pieces of slate, roofs, and wooden crates can all be used to build winter shelters. They can retain snow to a certain extent, but their main function is to serve as a framework. A layer of air is retained under such a structure, which protects the plants from direct contact with the insulation (which can get wet or covered with ice), and that’s a plus. But many building materials contain harmful chemicals. And this is a major disadvantage. For example, you shouldn’t use particleboard (cement-bonded particleboard), drywall siding, and fiberboard for shelter. Roofing materials are also a concern because of their high resin content. Some of these materials allow not only moisture, but also air. And then the harm from such a shelter can be more than useful. B. when using polyethylene film, the moisture underneath rises dramatically.
Despite all the advantages of covering materials, the best insulator is, of course, SNOW. It may seem that plants do not benefit from it in winter. Cold, so, it would seem, and the plants should be cold. But strangely enough, snow is very good at keeping plants warm. Not by itself, of course. But thanks to its structure, it keeps colder air from flowing to the ground. That is, snow shelters plants, cools them down, but protects them from even more cold. Under a thick blanket of snow, plants survive even the most severe frosts without loss. There is only one problem – this material is very unreliable – either it lies late or melts in the middle of winter. If there was a loose layer of snow on the plot all winter, you can not worry about covering.
To increase the effectiveness of protection, it is best to throw snow on plants already covered with foliage, spruce branches, or twigs. Heat is better retained with loose materials, and there should be air gaps in the shelter itself. If you are building a frame, make it low so the snow can cover it as much as possible. The deeper the shelter, the warmer it is, since only the ground warms the plants in winter. And to keep the wind from blowing snow all over the site, you should think about snow retention. To increase the amount of snow cover on the site, place small panels of plywood, boards, or plastic sheeting around apple trees and flower beds (especially strawberries).
As ideal as snow winter garden insulation is, it has its pitfalls. Wet snow is an unreliable cover. It is covered with a crust under which plants without access to air suffocate, wither, and die. To solve this problem, you just need to destroy the crust in time.
As you can see, the perfect upholstery material probably does not exist. But we are quite capable of protecting plants from winter cold, sunburn and rodents.
Late fall is dangerous with predictable and snowy frosts:
– Water plants with warm water;
– Apply a nuisance fertilizer that increases soil temperature.
– Spray with Epin or Zircon.
All these measures can wake up the plants, which go into hibernation. And then some shoots and buds will come out of hibernation. And if it gets under the frost, it will die instantly.
In snowy frosts, it’s a good idea to double-check and polish everything but the cover. Dry frosty weather is usually accompanied by strong winds, which can break even a securely installed frame or tear the covering. And every opportunity should be taken to protect the site from being dragged down by the wind.
With a snow cover height of 1 m or more, the temperature on the ground rarely falls below minus 5-7 degrees. Therefore, it is very important that the snow cover is not disturbed and cold air does not penetrate the ground.
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