November is a quiet month in the garden. If you finished your fall clean up in the last months (see our last blog posts), you can look forward to a cozy winter after dealing with one last foe: frost.
The Farmer’s Almanac predicts November 16 as the first frost of fall, but it can come earlier and it’s best to be ready. Here’s how to keep your Seattle-area garden safe:
If you haven’t already, make sure to harvest any frost-vulnerable crops. See our October garden guide [add link] for more specifics, but make sure tomatoes, peppers, and others are safely stored away. Some cool weather crops, such as broccoli and kale, can endure frost. Be sure to check online to see which can stay and which need to go. Bring any potted plants inside.
You can protect some hardier plants by using coverings that insulate them against the frost. Breathable fabrics are the way to go, even large towels, old bed spreads, or cardboard boxes will work. You can also buy commercial row covers.
The best technique is to set stakes around the plants and then drape the cover over it to create a tent. Don’t worry about the cover not fitting closely around the plant, the extra ground inside will allow more heat to emanate up. Weigh down the edges with heavy rocks or bricks to hold the cover in place.
Avoid plastic sheeting alone as it lacks insulation and can cause harmful condensation to gather on its interior. It is fine to use it as an additional layer on top of other covers.
Make sure to remove coverings before the temperature heats up the next day to avoid damage from overheating.
Prep Water Systems
Whether you have a state-of-the-art irrigation system or just a drippy hose, it’s important to store them properly to protect against damage from freezing. Not doing so can lead to expensive repairs or blockbuster water bills, so take the time to do it right.
For hoses and taps, it’s simple. Disconnect and drain the hose before coiling it up. Then turn off the valve leading to outdoor faucets and drain the line by leaving the spigot open for a few hours. Once the line is clear, insulate the faucet. You can either buy a cover at the hardware store or wrap the faucet in rags secured by duct tape and plastic. This is extra important if you’re not able to shut off the line from inside, so make sure you’re thorough.
For irrigation systems, it depends on the specifics. Generally, water should be shut off, automatic systems disabled, and above-ground portions insulated. Most importantly, systems need to be cleared of water. Some have drain valves for this, but others will need to be blown out with compressed air. This needs to be done correctly to avoid damage, so give us a call at 206-551-9872 to have our trained employees make sure everything is taken care of. You’ll thank yourself later!