3 quick tips to prepare for Denver's frost this week
Fall has officially arrived. While the forecast still shows several nice days ahead, that first plant-startling night of frost is here. If you love your heirloom tomatoes, tender veggies, petunias, and other summer annuals, you won’t want to lose them to the first frost because you weren’t prepared to protect them. It is also necessary to unhook your garden hoses and quick drain your irrigation systems backflow preventer to prevent pipe freeze.
What can I do to prepare for the frost?
1. Quick drain that backflow preventer.
The backflow preventer runs water from the inside of your home to supply water to the irrigation system and prevents contaminants from entering the homes main water supply. If this is not drained in a frost, the pipes could freeze and burst flooding, your home and contaminating your main water supply. Tune into the video below for a step-by-step guide to drain the backflow preventer.
2. Enjoy your annuals longer. Cover them up or bring them inside.
Plants that will survive frost include seasonal fall color flowers such as pansies, mums and asters. They can take the frost and sometimes a freeze. Hardy veggies on the frost-hardy list include root crops such as carrots as well as hardy leafy greens such as kale, spinach, winter squash, cabbage, broccoli, chard and collard greens. Pumpkins themselves will be fine until a freeze, but the leaves won’t survive a frost and that also applies to winter squash.
Most everything else out in the garden will need frost protection. If you still have containers with petunias and other summer annuals, they won’t survive and need to be covered if you want to enjoy them a little longer. All the tender veggies – tomatoes, peppers, tender greens and annual herbs – also need to be covered.
When protecting plants from frost, the goal is to hold onto the heat in the soil that was generated during the daytime. The first step is to cover plants to retain warmth in the soil. Do NOT use plastic – as plastic conducts cold into the plants and they will freeze where the plastic touches them. Use special frost/freeze protection blankets from the garden center or use household fabric items you already have on hand such as sheets and blankets. Large beach towels work well for covering containers. Place coverings low over the ground and spreading. Plants that already have cages around them can support the fabric, but if there is no support, another useful item is staking material that will hold fabric above plants so they are not bent or crushed from its weight.
3. Unhook and drain garden hoses.
Water left in garden hoses can freeze and damage its interior walls. Disconnect the hose from its faucet and tip the hose so the water drains out.
Once overnight temperatures warm back up, you may run your irrigation system, hook up the garden hose and strip away the fabric from any plants you have covered.