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.
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.