The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Dogwood winter 2014

Frozen apple blossom

Forecast low: 26.  Actual low: 23.  Fruit damage: high.

I've tried protecting tree blooms in the past, but haven't had any luck with wrapping trees and don't want to try to run sprinklers all night.  So we just roll with the weather, some years not getting any tree fruits at all.

I had hoped that this year's slow spring meant our trees would bloom late enough to miss the hard freezes, and the blooms were slow, but the freeze still came.  The question is --- did it kill everything?  It's hard to say how low the temperature actually got at various levels above the ground and in different parts of the yard.  The apple blossom above was clearly nipped, but many of the dwarf apples closer to the hillside are running slower and are at first pink or even tight cluster stage --- some of them might have made it.  (Here's a chart of critical temperatures in case you're dealing with a similar late freeze and want to guess which of your trees are in danger.)

Freeze protection in the garden

Strawberry flowers at popcorn stageLow-lying plants are much easier to protect.  I pulled out all of my old pieces of row-cover fabric to shelter tender vegetable seedlings like lettuce, broccoli, and cabbages.

At this time of year, I often cover up strawberries too, but only a few had even opened as far as the flowers shown to the right --- "popcorn stage."  The popcorn flowers will have gotten nipped, since they can be damaged when the temperature drops to 26.5, but tight flower buds are okay down to 22.  I figured it was better to miss five or ten of the earliest strawberries than to lose whole beds of broccoli.

Protecting lettuce seedlings

Under their covers, all of the seedlings came through with flying colors, even though the freeze was so hard that weeds in the yard like clover and dock were nipped back.  I usually don't cover peas, but I was a little concerned about them and carefully laid a row cover over half of the beds.  Interestingly, of the uncovered beds, one (in front of the trailer) was moderately nipped and one (in the mule garden beside quick hoops) looked just fine.  A few pea seedlings elsewhere in the mule garden came out from under their cover and those were nipped, so it seems like microclimate effects are hard at work in the garden.

The good news is that, even if we don't get any tree fruits this year, we should have plenty of berries to go around.  Our blueberry flowers are in what's called a tight cluster, safe down to 20 to 23 degrees, so most should be okay.  Blackberries and raspberries haven't enough thought about blooming, and their leaves came through the freeze just fine.  Add in strawberries and figs and we'll definitely enjoy fruits this summer --- yet another reason to grow berries even though they take a bit more work day to day than fruit trees do.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Yeah, so I'm commenting here for the first time. I've been reading a while now, half-year? And so a THANKS are in order, first off. For all the tips and sharing and good information you've posted. Love this chart referenced on the fruit tree kill. So maybe I'll start commenting here more often. I follow a few other 'farm blogs' but mainly on Wordpress. Anyway, much blessings to you in your endeavors, good thoughts and love your way, from Indiana, Eumeaus.
Comment by Eumaeus Thu Apr 17 12:01:16 2014

Here in s.w. Oregon all our fruit trees have bloomed! Yikes!!

My strawberry plants are blooming and Mt raspberry plants are loaded with flower buds. Peas are up and garlic is growing. I have taken the chives Swiss chard and kale out of the green house.

Just praying that no snow or heavy frost appears.

Comment by mona Thu Apr 17 12:59:23 2014

Any updates on how the Hardy Kiwis did?

Ours our loaded with blossoms this year and we were lucky enough to not dip below freezing here.

The cuttings I stuck in a pot seem to have a few that may have rooted, but all the cuttings I completely buried seem to have done better. I will update you again later.

Comment by Brian Thu Apr 17 13:49:21 2014
Brian --- Their buds were just barely starting to open into leaves when the freeze came, so of course they got nipped. :-/ That may be the story of the hardy kiwi on our farm, but I'll wait and hope that maybe they can survive that nippage and still give us flowers this year. That's awesome that yours is blooming so well!
Comment by anna Fri Apr 18 13:11:36 2014

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.