Frost and hard freeze ahead: How to protect your plants

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 9:16 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The coldest air of the season is bringing frost and a hard freeze to southern Wisconsin.

The first step is not to panic, Daniel Goodspeed, horticulturalist with Jung Seed, said.

Goodspeed recommends plucking fruits like tomatoes, even while they’re green. Otherwise, he says gardeners should cover them up Friday night, and while they’re outside, they should bring in the pots.

“Elephant plants, anything like that, that you think of as a tropical garden-type plant,” he said, “those are the most sensitive to even a mild freeze.”

As root and winter vegetables, including brussels sprouts, taste better with dropping temperatures, there is another plus side to the cold.

“We have battled mosquitoes a lot this past summer, so having them freeze is a great thing for us,” Joe Hammang, shopping for succulents at Jung Garden Center, said. His wife Susan said she would harvest the herbs in her garden Friday night.

The timing is also ripe for some insecticides, according to Goodspeed. Beetles, he says, are close to the surface and still feeding. “Early spring and then early fall is when that application of insecticides will be most effective for Japanese Beetle treatment,” he said.

Through the season, getting outside may get tougher, but Goodspeed said the garden work does not stop.

“Keep things hydrated, even though the weather is getting colder. You don’t have to water as often, but you do have to make sure that the soil stays moist. That’s important for all plants,” he said.

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