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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Dwarf Fruit Tree Protection

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Post  donnainzone5 3/10/2016, 12:30 pm

We've had some weird weather here lately:  some warm weather, followed by cooler weather with lows in the 20s--or even a bit lower.

My lovely dwarf apricot tree is thriving in its spot in one of the holes in the deck and is preparing to burst out in lovely pink blossoms.  I've covered it a couple of times at night with three old sheets, which really don't stay on very well.

However--It's supposedly going to get cold again for a while, with snow possible. 

Here's my question:  should I cover it when rain and/or snow are predicted, along with below-freezing temperatures?  Or can I skip it if there's cloud cover? 

Thanks in advance.
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Post  AtlantaMarie 3/12/2016, 9:21 am

Hmmm... Usually temps stay higher with cloud cover. The clouds act as insulation.

But if they're saying below freezing even with the clouds... I'd say cover them to be safe!
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Post  Yardslave 3/13/2016, 9:01 pm

I'd be inclined to cover it with a frost blanket material only for the sake of getting the fruit to set. The tree will tolerate the cold storms above, but it's the early rise in soil temp that forced the early, nonseasonal budding. Budding is regulated by a rise in the soil temperature, so the tree will break dormancy. irregardless of the weather, often with disastrous results. Your tree is confused, and will be somewhat "challenged" to push both fruit and leaves and maintain it's health as the roots push sap up to unreceptive branches. to insulate the soil and prevent wide variations in soil temp, pile 6" of wood chips or compost all around the tree's drip line ( keep it away from the tree's base, especially if it's a grafted tree). Last year. I left my stone fruit trees uncovered during an extended late frost, and the harvest wasn't even worth picking. I left 1/2 the fruit that wasn't worth picking to the birds.
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Post  donnainzone5 3/14/2016, 11:24 am

Thanks, Yardslave.

I'd already piled about 4" of leaves, layered with Christmas tree branches, around it a couple of months ago.  I suppose I could add more, but a few of those buds are already flowering!  It's snowing lightly this morning, with about 1/4" or so on the ground. 

Finger-crossing time, I suppose.  The weather here is both unpredictable and challenging!
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Dwarf Fruit Tree Protection Empty Help With Fruit Trees/Lilacs! SOS!

Post  donnainzone5 4/13/2016, 7:39 pm

We're supposed to get 1"-2" snow between tonight and tomorrow night.  Question:  Should I hose down my fruit trees and lilacs?  Please advise ASAP, and thanks.
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Post  Yardslave 4/13/2016, 7:53 pm

Other than protecting the bark around the trunk from sun scalding, a layer of snow will protect the whole tree from temps below freezing. I think that some of the fruit that set may drop as a result of the temp shock, but your tree will be able to withstand the snow. Here's a link to read, I hope it helps:
http://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide/article/protecting-fruit-trees-in-winter/
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Post  donnainzone5 4/13/2016, 9:35 pm

Thanks, Yardslave.

My conundrum is what to do about lilacs and fruit trees that are already flowering.  Or just about to.  Nightfall is coming.
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Post  Yardslave 4/14/2016, 6:11 pm

Sorry for the late response, hope they made it through the night!. I'm not sure about how the lilacs will be effected, but the fruit trees that managed to hold their fruit will weather it out. If they have dropped all the fruit, you can do like the bonsai trainers and clip EVERY leaf to 1/4" of their base, leaving only a green stub. This will trick the tree into thinking it's fall( when the photo period has diminished) and it will drop the leaves like it does in fall and, if the ground temp hasn't fallen, the tree will re-bud again and send out a second push of shoots. That's how the bonsai growers can get two years of growth in one years. The only catch is that it only works on deciduous trees. All is not lost
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Post  donnainzone5 4/14/2016, 6:43 pm

It only hit 33F last night, but started snowing this morning at 7:30, and it all melted.  It's starting to do so again at 40F. 

My apple and apricot trees appear to undamaged (so far), although I did rush out this morning to cover my blueberry bed with plastic.  Unfortunately, it rubbed off some of the incipient blooms on one young plant. 

I think I just might cover the asparagus bed tonight, since three giant spears have finally appeared.  It's supposed to get down to about 27F, but my yard is usually colder.
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