Last winter the lemon tree froze back to the point we thought it was dead, thankfully it made a full recovery, and while it produced no lemons, it grew about a foot. With that in mind we promised ourselves that we would protect our plants better this winter.
Earlier this winter we diligently covered our plants every night with a giant tarp. Then we went to Palo Alto for Christmas and left them uncovered for a few nights, they survived, the parsley thrived, and we became rather lax about the process.
Yesterday morning there was an icy layer of frost on the windshield of our car, and the plants looked a little unhappier than usual. This morning, they looked even unhappier, so I decided to simplify the tarp situation.
Previously we had draped the tarp over the lemon tree and over the strawberry and herb barrels, and then undraped them in the morning. This worked great, unless it rained in the night and water pooled in the excess tarp around the base. It was an unpleasant 2-person job.
My solution: I put a few nails along the back fence to hang the tarp on, and one on the side fence for a tented effect.
There is a bamboo pole to help keep the tarp from resting directly on the barrels, and the lemon tree’s straightening stick also provides some tenting support. To prevent puffs of wind from blowing it away, I put duct tape over the nails (they’re extra long) so the tarp can’t slide off.
The tarp is now easy to pull over the plants and it can easily be done by one person (even with a “helpful” toddler under foot). Hopefully this will inspire us to tent the plants every night. I really don’t want to almost loose the lemon tree again.