Ice Storm: Both Good and Bad For Plants

Ice Storm: Both Good and Bad For Plants

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Mobile, AL -   Ice is something Gulf Coast gardeners rarely have to deal with…our last ice storm was in 1982.  So, what do we do?  Bill Finch of Mobile Botanical Gardens has some suggestions.

  First, ice can be both good and bad.  Like snow, ice can help insulate plants from bitter cold air, keeping warmth in the ground.  Beneath the ice, Bill's thermometer reads 45 degrees!  But if the ice lingers too long, it reflects the sunlight and the ground can't get warm again and plants stay colder longer.

  Our recent storm brought a mix of all the wintry elements:  ice, sleet, and snow.  A few weeks ago on Plain Gardening, Bill showed us how to cover plants with a cloth and a tarp…so the proof's in the puddin', so to speak.  Bill just threw a cloth and then a tarp over his winter vegetables…nothing fancy.  The heavy ice may have crushed a few plants, but overall the garden looks good!  A little smooshed, but green and good…most will overcome any minor damage.  Even some uncovered kale seems to have survived. 

  There may be problems with local winter citrus, but it'll take a little time to find out how much.

  Some plants may even benefit.  Bill says azaleas like a good cold spell…and he thinks azaleas may be especially pretty this year.

  And despite the ice, it's time to think about tomatoes.  The cold won't last, it won't delay spring, and you'll be left with good soil.  You may want to get busy with tomatoes as early as this weekend!

  Learn more about winter's effects at mobilebotanicalgardens.org 
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