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Cold spell coming up... Which of these need protecting?

Hi all

I'm getting a bit nervous about this upcoming cold spell!  I'm in North Norfolk and they are predicting lows of 2 - 3C overnight, as well as potential sleet and hail.  I've moved all the pots I can into the shed, but there's a few other bits I'm not too sure what to do with.  Everything has been a rush this last month or two (first proper year of gardening) and so I have not got around to getting any horticultural fleece yet :(

Partly so that I know whether I need to relax or stay up all night worrying, and partly to find out what else I can do to help my plants, I wondered if anyone could offer advice on the following with regards the upcoming weather....

-  Apple and Pear trees.  3 year olds but quite small.  Most are in flower. 

-  Strawberries, in the ground - not pots.  About a quarter of them have flowers. 

-  Onion sets - only put out yesterday!

Seeds - only recently sown - of: 

-  Leaf beet, chard, spinach, radish, rocket...  Most aren't showing yet and those that are are VERY small.

-  Rasberries, tayberries and wineberries.

Which of these need help and which will be ok?  And of those that need help, any thoughts on what I can do?  I'm happy going out with my head torch on!  

Many thanks, and wishing you all a non-destructive cold spell :)




  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,860

    Strawberries are hardy, mine are outside in everything the weather throws at them all year round. They'll survive anything! I don't grow onions but I wouldn't have thought they'll be a problem. Blossom on young fruit trees can be protected with a cover of any kind that's suitable, if you're really worried, but my apple trees are fine and we've already had at least  two frosts in the last  week. 

    Raspberries etc are hardy, so I'd reckon you only need to bother with the seedlings - put them somewhere sheltered - against a house wall for instance.  If you don't have fleece - use bubble wrap or an old blanket or similar. Even the shelter of other shrubs or a garden table/bench will do.

    Plants that are grown a bit 'harder' willl withstand fluctuating temps and conditions far better than those which are too cossetted.  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,903

    Hi neighbour image  We're in Norfolk too.

    I wouldn't worry about those ... you may get a poor set of fruit on the apples and pears, those strawberry flowers may not produce fruit, but they will produce more flowers - the rest should be fine.

    I've got broad beans flowering, tiny chard seedlings just peeking through, strawberries flowering, etc etc etc ... this isn't really abnormal weather ... most stuff will survive.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • January ManJanuary Man Posts: 212

    Ar yer orrite Dove?  :)  Well, hold you hard cos I hint done nothing yet...

    When you say a "set of fruit" what do you mean?  It might affect all of this year's crop?  I think it is largely academic to be honest as I don't think I can do anything for the trees that might not end up doing more damage than the potential frost.  

    Great to hear that the other stuff should - on the whole - be ok.  The strawberries though... I'm half tempted to put a bit of bubblewrap over the ones that have flowers...

    Just to clarify, is it just the frost that causes damage?  If it gets pretty cold but without a frost, will the flowers on the trees and strawberries be ok?  The strawberries are actually on a bit of a slope and there is some hawthorn above them.  Might both these things help keep the frost off???

    Thank you both for the helpful replies.

    Last edited: 24 April 2017 22:21:07

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,903

    Oim orrite Max, jist. As duzzy chilled. Can yew tell oim reelly a Suffolk mawther, wos bin transplanted up hair?  Oi hev ter keep moi hid down cos oim a Tractor Girl image

    The fruit is known as having 'set' when the flowers/blossom has been fertilised and fruit are starting to develop.

    Ive always assumed that the damage is done by ice crystals forming in and breaking down the plant cells, but to be honest I don't really know. Other problems resulting from cold weather can be a lack of pollinating insects being about. 

    Also some plants like tomatoes, chillies and squash just do not grow in low temperatures, and too long spent in the cold and damp means that roots begin to rot. 

    I woke to see quite a heavy snow shower a little while ago but now the sun is up and the sky is almost blue ... With any luck the worst could be over image

    Last edited: 25 April 2017 06:29:08

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,903

    Hmmm ... The sky's gone dark grey again ... image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,903

    Oh 'eck! It's that duzzy white stuff agin image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,903

    Now it's wall to wall blue skies again ... I wonder for how long? image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • January ManJanuary Man Posts: 212

    Michael Fish eat your heart out!  This is better than the MET office!  

    I think we've got away quite lightly so far.  It started hailing around 10-11pm last night and I feared the worst.  I couldn't help but go out with a torch afterwards and was pleased to see all looked ok.  I'm a heavy sleeper so not sure what happened over night.  I know it has been quite windy on an off.  But so far so good and even the strawberry flowers look fine.

    I think part of the reason I am nervous is because we were hit by a mega hail storm of biblical proportions in late June last year which obliterated everything.  It even took the paint off the windows, so you can only imagine how well soft leaves faired.  It was so gutting and has left me a tad nervous :)  The weird thing was that when we went to the PO less than two miles away, they didn't know what i was talking about.  The ice remained in the road verges for a couple of days (and the hedges took a battering), so when walking the dogs we were able to see which areas had been hit and which missed.  It turned out that an area of around half a mile or less had been hit and everywhere else escaped.  I cursed my luck for weeks afterwards. 

    Anyhow, enough of my sob story.  Sorry to hear the weather's not looking good your way.  Hope there's no damage to your garden...  Thanks for all the posts and for making me laugh.  Das a good un dat.

  • I have a friend who has several fruit trees, Apples and Pears, she goes out the late evening before a frost and gives the blossom a really good soaking with a hose pipe (Very fine spray). She also does this to other plants in flower at the time such as Pieris, Choisya, Wisteria etc. seems to work.

    I think the theory is that the water on the blossom absorbs the heat from the morning sun preventing the blossom from a sudden thaw therefore not damaging cells in the flower.

    If your serious about your fruit trees think about Smudging! Up well before first light and light fires under the trees and feed the fire with fuel that gives off a lot of smoke "Smudging" the blossom.

    Same theory, the smoke particles absorb the heat from the mornings rising sun reducing the speed of a sudden thaw to the cells in the blossom. The smoke also helps to rid the trees of some pests I'm guessing.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,903

    Max image, my brother's a potato and veg farmer down in Suffolk .... one year they had just such a hail storm ... leaves were stripped from two fields of potato plants, the bonnet and roof of the farm landrover were dented all over and he found a hare dead in the field, as if it had been beaten to death.  It only lasted a few minutes but did thousands of pounds worth of damage. 

    CC image, it's a young espaliered Concorde pear  ... we had our first harvest last year ... two pears ... we might allow it to produce four this  year, but I don't think I'll get up and do Smudging for four pears ... Fascinating tho' ... I'll tell Wonky about it ... she's weeding pleached pears today at her new job. image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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