This is the time of year for those who have outdoor plants and vegetables fear – the upcoming freeze. Typically we see our first freeze November 5th in Las Cruces and November 14th in El Paso. It is a sad time of year for me because I really enjoy grabbing a large ripe tomato from my garden anytime I’m ready for that burger or turkey sandwich. But did you know that we can protect our plants from the first freeze as long as it doesn’t get too cold?
If the temperature is expected to hit a low around 32 degrees, we can stave off the damage by implementing a couple of tactics. One of these is watering the soil around the plant early that day. This can help raise the temperature by two or three degrees. The moist soil will absorb more heat from the sun during the daylight and then reradiate that warmth at night thus protecting the plant.
The other option is to place a sheet, blanket or a plastic cover over the plants. You typically do not want to rest the covering on the plant itself but support it by a surrounding structure such as using stakes. Make sure the covering reaches all the way to the ground. This procedure could increase the temperature by a few degrees. You could also use a small electric heater or a light bulb to allow for a larger drop in temperatures.