There is a frost warning for tomorrow morning and the following morning. I knew Illinois had at least one more good frost up its sleeve before the month was done!
I am concerned about my fruit trees. I haven’t planted any veggies that can’t withstand a good frost (peas, broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard and onions) so I’m not worried about the garden, but my fledgling orchard has me worried.
Because of our early and sustained warmth so far this season, my peach and cherry trees are in full fruit. I’d say, all total, my two peach trees have well over 150 peaches already set and growing. They are large marble-sized fruit at the moment, but a good heavy frost could wipe them all out. Same with the cherries. My two cherry trees are absolutely loaded with tiny fruit.
Large commercial orchards can take drastic measures to save their fruit crop, from burning huge bonfires in the orchards to hiring a helicopter to hover over the orchards to push warm air down or setting sprinklers up to keep above-freezing water hitting the trees in an effort to prevent frost from settling in and doing its damage.
I can’t take measures that drastic as I only have four trees to worry about. The pear trees haven’t started blossoming yet (they are later spring blossomers), so I don’t have to worry about them, and, the pear trees tend to do better in cooler weather than the hotter season fruits, like cherries, peaches and plums, do.
So, tonight the trees will get covered with sheets as well as they can be covered. Some gardeners say you could do more damage by covering the trees with cloth because you risk damaging the tree, but others say the damage you could do to a few limbs is far less than what the frost could do to your fruit. We’ll see what happens. If I can save half the fruit from being damaged/killed by frost, I’ll risk possibly damaging a few small limbs on the trees. Those can be pruned out in the fall any way when I do the annual pruning.
I’m far less worried about my roses, which are looking fabulous and putting on delightful flowers. They are right next to the house, out of the wind, and should be okay. I don’t think I have enough sheets hanging around the house to cover them AND the fruit trees any way.
So, fingers crossed that my efforts to save the fruit will do more good than harm!