April 10, 2012

Meade saves the planet.

No, he just saved the plants. We had a frost here in Madison, after much warm weather, and he was out hosing down everything before the first sun hit. Did you know that was the trick?


Nena's 99 Luftballons Song said...

Cool info on the plant shower. Thx for all the gardening tricks. More photos !!

Paco Wové said...

We thought about doing that -- really, we did! -- but were too lazy to carry it out.

Besides, it was cold out there!

Scott M said...

Did you know that was the trick?

Nope, but at a guess it prevents damaging ice crystals from forming? I would think that hitting the plants with water that's the temperature of your internal piping would cool quickly and compound the problem. What's to keep the now-soggy botany from freezing up again?

bearing said...

I learned about it from reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (it's one of the Little House books, but about the childhood of her husband Almanzo Wilder) when I was in about fourth grade. Something about running frantically to save the crops, tossing buckets of water on all the hills of corn plants before the sun rose.

I never did figure out why that was supposed to work, or why they gave up when the sun peeked over the horizon.

Pogo said...

Good idea.

I was running the SUV all night to increase global warming.

EDH said...

...he was out hosing down everything before the first sun hit. Did you know that was the trick?

Ahem, exactly which "hose" did he use?

Meade said...

I wanted to be lazy. Soft bed. Warm wife.
But then Mrs. Meade said hey, didn't you say you were going to save the planet? So we swapped a few old stories and, oh my look at the time! Of course I leapt into action like some sort of superhero. Which I was - to the plants and the missus.
Frost damage averted on planet Meadhouse.

Scott M said...

So, Meade, what you're saying is that even blog-owning, law-prof wives nag?

Meade said...

Scott M, close. Ice crystals in plant cells explode when sun beams hit them, permanently damaging the plant cells. Water spray makes for a slow thaw and less damage. Of course, a hard frost - 25 degrees or less - and the trick wouldn't work.

Scott M said...

Of course, a hard frost - 25 degrees or less - and the trick wouldn't work.

Well, in that case, you just have to pull out the Crowd Pleaser and hope you drank enough water the night before.

Paco Wové said...

"What's to keep the now-soggy botany from freezing up again?"

This is one of the tricks that orange growers use to stave off frost damage in the groves -- spray down the trees with water, with the intention that it will freeze on the fruit. For reasons I never tried to understand, the ice layer acts as protection and actually prevents frost damage.

Meade said...

No, Scott. She never nags.
I know - hard to believe - but It's true.
She's coaxes. Insires. Purrs like a kitten.
Dream come true.

Scott M said...

Dream come true.

(insert bullwhip sound here)

I'm similarly afflicted. It's a wonderful life.

Meade said...

I do the insiring. Like a superhero. Natch.

Christy said...

Wow! Very good to know. We have frost predicted for tonight. How long before the sun hits should the plants be sprayed?

Planting early with the warm spring has been an almost irresistable urge.

David said...

We have nag rights in our house. You can nag, but first you have to request nag rights. If you are refused nag rights, there is no nagging about the nag rights.

Sometimes I also request a nag, knowing that I am unlikely to do something unless nagged.

The purring also works.

Meade said...

Christy, you have right up to the moment direct sunlight hits the plants.
Suggestion: put your hose inside overnight. So it flows when you need it most.

MadisonMan said...

If you have a mister (something that sprays water, not a male person), make sure you use it long before it gets cold, else you can get a bit of evaporative cooling before you saturate the air. And that extra cooling will kill your plants. IF you're just flooding the plants with water from a hose, you won't have this problem.

Calypso Facto said...

Cranberry growers also use sprinkling to prevent early frost damage. But I have a very different understanding of the science than Meade: The sprinkled water acts as a heat sump. As it freezes it gives up it's latent heat (1200 BTUs per gallon)to the air and plants, keeping the localized air warmer and the surrounding plants from freezing. The "first sun" issue is mere coincidence, since pre-dawn is also the coldest and therefor most critical time of night for frost.

But by all means, continue on with your vampire-like image of sunlight-exploded cells if you wish.

Meade said...

Okay. More science:

Irrigate during the potential frost – Many people claim that watering the frost off plants prevents frost damage. This is partially true. As mentioned above, watering plants helps raise their temperature and the air around them to that of the water. In addition, as water freezes, heat is released; 80 calories for each
gram of water that freezes. Therefore, watering plants before they are injured from frost can help keep their internal temperature above freezing. A single application at the coldest part of the night (generally just before sunrise) may be enough on 30- to 32-degree F nights. On colder nights it may be necessary to apply overhead irrigation for an extended period of time, allowing actual ice formation on the plants. In this case, irrigation must continue until morning temperatures rise above 32 F and the ice melts. It is important to note that once frost damage occurs, watering does not help.
Chemical sprays – Buyer beware! Many materials will claim to provide frost protection using a variety of techniques. However, no commercially available product seems to be able to stand up to a replicated, scientific test.
Heaters and wind machines – These measures are generally restricted to commercial growers and work best in orchards. Both are used to break down an inversion layer. Heaters warm the cold ground air, causing it to rise. This updraft causes a corresponding downdraft, thus mixing the air. Wind machines are huge fans mounted on thirty-foot towers. The wind currents they create physically mix the warm and cold air layers.

Compiled by Eric de Long Chemung 9/01
Reiners, Stephen. Preventing Damage from an Early Frost. Cornell University Consumer News Service. September, 2001.
Anonymous. Understanding Frost. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County fact sheet. 1995.

pm317 said...

My hydrangeas have some freeze burn but most are doing well. I wrote about robins banging against my windows here before. Well, at least one of them is building a nest underneath our deck which we can look up to see from the backyard patio and it is so sloppy, half the stuff it brings is on the ground. Maybe it is his(?) first time. I can't help but feel honored that these creatures choose our home to build their families -- silly but I feel happy.

edutcher said...

All I remember was reading about farmers in Florida lighting smudgepots when I was a kid.

he things you learn here.

Meade said...

I wanted to be lazy. Soft bed. Warm wife.

The warm wife has been the undoing of empires and fortunes.

No, Scott. She never nags.
I know - hard to believe - but It's true.
She's coaxes. Insires. Purrs like a kitten.

I believe the word is, "seduce".

ndspinelli said...

What a hoser.

Dante said...

No, but I wish I had. I lost all my tomato plants.

Sharc said...

Assuming temps are only going down to 30 or so, how about just setting the sprinkler to run lightly all night? Our flox is beautiful right now, but vulnerable tonight.

Sharc said...

And yes, I'm proposing "washing our flox by night."

Sharc said...

I'll be here all week.