Even in late Spring there is still a risk of frosts, so keep an eye on your local weather forecast for any days when temperatures are likely to drop below 0ºC (32ºF). Spring frost can damage tender young growth and blossom so it’s a good idea to be prepared to protect from late frosts in May.
Here are some tips on how best to protect from late frosts:
- Cover your fruit plants, bushes and small trees with fleece (strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, plums, cherries, apples, pears…). Horticultural fleece is a lightweight, thin, flexible, warm fabric designed to gently cover plants. Remove once temperature has risen.
- Ensure that your plants are mulched. Mulching is when you cover soil (bark/wood chips, compost, manure, straw, leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard) in order to retain soil moisture and regulate temperature. It’s a good idea to keep your plants mulched all the time, not just to protect from frost, as it is a great way to control erosion, encourage soil organisms, suppress weeds and add nutrients.
- Make a low protective tunnel/frame out of wood/piping/pallets/bamboo and cover it with fleece/sheets/blankets. Place this over your beds of green leaved vegetables. Remove once temperature has risen.
Covering plants protects them from frost by retaining the heat that rises from the soil. The best time to cover your plants is just before sunset. Frost damage to blossom and young fruits can lead to few or no fruits at all and tender new vegetable leaves can be scorched which can damage or completely destroy the vegetable.
Established plants and plants grown in sunny, sheltered positions are less susceptible to frost damage. Sometimes plants will recover from frost damage, so don’t automatically assume that a damaged plant is dead and pull it out, give it time to try to recover. Pruning out damaged parts of a plant will help its recovery.
If anyone has any tips, questions or suggestions, please comment below.