Stillwater News Press


March 31, 2012

In the Garden 04-01-12

With such an unseasonably warm March, many fear April will bring the fooled-you frost. Here are some simple solutions to protect your plantings from an unexpected turn in the weather.

Season extenders trap warmth. Although the highest degree of protection comes from hot beds or cold frames — low-profile structures built to shelter seedlings — these structures may be overkill for the average hobby gardener. For those with greater commitment, here’s a quick how-to.

Find a sunny place in the yard, preferably facing south and construct a simple frame that tapers from 8 inches to 4 inches on the sides positioning the highest side on the north. Old windows or other transparent material is then laid flat or hinged to the frame creating a miniature, makeshift greenhouse — a cold frame.

On warm days the windows are opened to allow air circulation and easy access to the tender plants. Lock in the warm air by closing the top at night.

Hot beds not only draw warmth from the sun, they also provide warmth from beneath the plants. The outer structure will be identical to a cold frame, but the soil is prepared differently.

To build a hotbed, remove soil in a determined area to a depth of 18 inches. Refill the bed with 12 inches of fresh manure. Top the hot manure with 4-6 inches of soil. You may then start seed directly or nestle small pots into the soil. Added protection comes from the upward radiating heat.

Most home veggie gardens can achieve similar results on a smaller scale by protecting individual plants. Water holds warmth and is the key to the season extender called wall of water. Vertical tubes of clear poly sheeting encircle the plant. Each tube is filled with water that traps and holds the sun’s warmth in a cozy teepee shape. This product, with care, can be reused next spring.

Hot caps or cloches offer minimal protection and vary in material and price. Heavy paper, hard plastic or glass bells about a foot tall are placed over each seedling. Clear, two-liter soda bottles with the bottoms removed will serve the same purpose. Take off the twist-on cap to allow hot air to escape.

Or try wrapping an inverted tomato cage with a sheet of large bubble wrap, securing the cage in place with landscape staples. Don’t be afraid to experiment; that’s half the fun of gardening.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • What’s Blooming 04-20-14

    Last month the water garden went under the knife and now has a brand new look.

    April 19, 2014

  • Grow! 04-20-14

    My favorite part of spring is selecting new plants for the garden and landscape.

    April 19, 2014

  • Seed to Table 04-20-14

    Betanin (ba'tah-nin) and betaine (ba'tah-in) are two terms I encountered while working on a column about beets.

    April 19, 2014

  • In the Garden 04-20-14

    For many years, landscapers limited their use of groundcovers, preferring to plant lawn.

    April 19, 2014

  • Farmers Market 04-17-14

    We are looking forward to another busy spring market this Saturday with several vendors in attendance and plenty of farm fresh produce at the spring and summer location at Strickland Park, across from Hastings near the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Main Street.

    April 16, 2014

  • Grow! 04-13-14

    Fresh air! The great outdoors!

    April 12, 2014

  • In the Garden 04-13-14

    Jasmine-fragrance fanatics stop and breathe deeply at even the mention of the name, reminiscing and recalling the powerful scent these flowers bear.

    April 12, 2014

  • Farmers Market 04-10-14

    The Stillwater Farmers Market has officially made the move to Strickland Park.

    April 9, 2014

  • Grow! 04-06-14

    In the summer months, there’s nothing that tastes better than a sun-ripened tomato right from the vine.

    April 5, 2014

  • Seed to Table 04-06-14

    Hopefully your cool season crops are all in the ground.

    April 5, 2014

Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NDN Video
Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Celebs Share Their Easter Fun At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager
Must Read