A frost

2 se­crets to get­ting your fruit trees through Ben has two proven meth­ods for help­ing frost-ten­der trees get through a big drop in tem­per­a­ture.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - In The Orchard -

It’s 8am on a cold West Coast morn­ing and as the sun rises, the ther­mome­ter reads -5°C for the umpteenth time. I will be wa­ter­ing the trees to­day.

Wa­ter­ing in win­ter? This is the se­cret to grow­ing cit­rus trees and other ten­der sub­trop­i­cals like straw­berry guavas in a land where the mer­cury plunges at night to alpine sub ze­ros. Luck­ily, frost here on my block means a fine, sunny, al­most spring-like day by mid-af­ter­noon.

Most frost dam­age is done by the plants dry­ing out as their avail­able wa­ter freezes up. Wa­ter­ing es­tab­lished cit­rus in mid-win­ter can be as valu­able to their sur­vival as wa­ter­ing them in a drought sum­mer. These cit­rus trees are in the ground, but with­out ex­tra wa­ter and frost pro­tec­tion they might not look so happy. Pot­ted or con­tainer­ised plants whose root area is lim­ited will need even more at­ten­tion: saucers, ex­tra wa­ter, hay mulch around the stem, and frost cloth thrown over the top through win­ter’s worst month. Cit­rus sur­vive best in quite a large ca­pac­ity tub.

Part of the se­cret to keep­ing them alive is to add a sea­weed so­lu­tion to the wa­ter. I hand wa­ter seedlings, the vege gar­den, in my tun­nel house, and the cit­rus trees with a sea­weed so­lu­tion in the wa­ter­ing can. There are many good prod­ucts now on the mar­ket in­clud­ing large com­mer­cial scale sup­plies for trac­tor-mounted sprayers. There must be some­thing mag­i­cal in sea­weed: is it the salt, the io­dine, some kind of nat­u­ral anti-freeze? Or just that breath of mild sea air?

Sea­weed some­how soft­ens the blow of a hard frost on your plants, and sup­plies a great va­ri­ety of trace el­e­ments, should any part of your or­chard stock be lack­ing in them.

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