We’ve said it before: mulch covers a multitude of garden sins. But during the winter (and in the heat of the summer), mulch also provides insulation for your plants. If you haven’t mulched your plants for the winter, now’s the time to do it.
How to apply mulch to your garden
A 2- to 4-inch layer of native mulch, or pine straw on all your in-ground plants should keep icy winds from freezing the roots of your plants and help them survive. For your potted plants, you might want to bring them inside if possible. If not, move them next to a sheltered area of your home, away from wind, and cover them with a heavy garden cloth, old bed sheets, large beach towels, tarps, or more expensive plant covers.
Tips for Citrus
For your citrus, there are drawstring bags you can purchase that cost around $10 to $15, or you can just pin some sheets together and wrap them. For root systems, put a couple of bags of partially decomposed compost, grass clippings or even leaves around the base of the tree. Use big plastic trash bags, and don’t overfill them. Bags of compost or leaves can also be used to protect exposed pipes.
Don’t forget to water all your plants well before a freeze. Water conducts ground heat better than air. Many citrus growers also spray down their trees before a freeze. As the water freezes, it releases heat, to its environment. Some of that heat goes out into the atmosphere. But much of it is directed into the leaves and the fruit, adding another protective layer.
Presents for gardener friends
How about a drip irrigation system (affordable on line, at the big box stores or even some of the “little box” stores as well. A nice rake or shovel, or perhaps a set of hand tools. A cobra head weeder or a pair of Felco pruners. Some of your relatives might not approve unless they’re gardeners too. But your gardener friends will be thrilled. Felco makes them for right- and left-handed gardeners. They’re a little pricy, but they’ll last a lifetime.
From all the Montgomery Master Gardeners to you, have a happy and merry Christmas.