If you have container gardens with tender plants in them, here are a few things you can do to protect them from the cold and frost.
- Give Your Plants a Drink: First thing to do is keep your soil moist. Soil will retain more heat if it isn’t too dry. Also, plants have a better chance of survival if they aren't stressed by drought.
- Move Your Container Gardens: You can simply move your container gardens inside at night and out again when the temperatures warm up. I put large containers on wagons and wheel them in and out of the garage - out in the morning on warm days and back in again as the temperatures start to drop in the late afternoon.
- Cover Your Plants: At night, soil releases some of the heat that it has collected during the day. To retain this heat and protect your plants from frost, you can invert a bucket or a plastic milk container with the bottom removed over a single plant, or if you have a big enough bucket you can cover an entire container garden this way. Just make sure to put a rock or some other weight on top to keep it from blowing off.
- Tent Your Container Gardens: For large container gardens, that you can't move, make a tent. Make a sturdy frame out of wood, bamboo or pvc piping to place over over the plants. Cover the frame with heavy plastic, fabric or burlap. To retain the most heat, the tent should be close to but not touching the tops of your plants. Also, you'll need to secure the plastic or fabric either by tying it on or weighing down the bottom with rocks. Just make sure to take at least part of the tent off during the day.
- Make or Buy a Cold Frame:A cold frame is basically a small greenhouse. It can be as simple as getting some bales of hay and using them to make a box, big enough to put your container gardens in, that can be covered with a piece of clear plastic, or an old window. A cold frame is also a great way to get a jump on your seed starting in spring. You can buy all sorts of cold frames, from simple to extravagant.