by Ann Barnes, EMGV

We are having some mixed up weather. Today (1/4/07) I went outside without a jacket and enjoyed the sunshine. A few days ago, we had rain and even some thunder. This weekend’s forecast calls for snow. Have you wondered if thunder can really be used to predict snow, as the “old wives’ tale” suggests? I did, and found this article by local meteorologist Don Schwenneker. Take a look at his article – I was a little surprised at his findings from local data and would love to see a larger study someday.

Even if it doesn’t snow in Durham, we are in for some cold nights at the end of the week. Several forecasts predict lows in the teens. Plan ahead to protect your home, garden, family and pets from the cold and (maybe) snow, and keep an eye on the forecast over the next few days.

If you have a cool season vegetable garden, you will want to protect your leafy greens – even hardier plants like kale and cabbage can be damaged by temperatures in the teens. Floating row covers are a great way to protect plants and can be left in place for days. In the photo below, hoops constructed from flexible plastic tubing hold the row covers away from the plants. Since we have had mild weather recently, covering will trap warmth from the soil, essentially making mini greenhouses. If you don’t have tubing and frost protection fabric, covering plants with blankets, sheets, or towels overnight will provide protection. Anchor your covers with bricks or rocks to keep them secure. A thick layer of dry leaves or straw can also be used to protect low growing plants.

Floating row cover photo: Ann Barnes

If you have landscape plants that are new or are sensitive to very cold temperatures, cover these plants as well. You can use the same protective methods in your landscape as you use in the vegetable garden. Protect plants growing in containers by moving them to a sheltered location such as a garage or porch. If they are too large to move, wrap containers with blankets, bubble wrap, or other insulating material.

Since the threat of wintry weather is a few days away, check your landscape for broken or dead tree branches that could come crashing down when weighted by snow or ice. Safely removing them ahead of time could protect your plants and possibly your property. Plants that are frequently bent or damaged by frozen precipitation can be wrapped to shield them from the weight of snow. See instructions here.

This sky pencil holly has suffered damage from snow and ice in previous years and will be wrapped for protection. Photo: Ann Barnes


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