This week Philadelphia got its first taste of winter…
While this snow won’t last, it served as a sort of message from the powers-that-be: Fall is over! Really! Warm days are gone! So in my usual manner, meaning that it was way past due time to do this, I rushed to cover my container plants on the balcony. The up-side of balcony gardening is that everything is close to the house, so the winters are much milder than in in-ground gardens. The down-side, however, is the containers: because they by definition hold smaller volumes of soil than even the smallest raised bed, the soil cools down much faster. Therefore, to protect the dormant roots, it is best to cover your container plants so that they don’t freeze.
Here is an example of a container cozy that I made for my future potato tower (currently just some potato plants growing in a crate). I decided to use row cover material, since the potatoes are still growing (albeit slowly), so they need light and air, and this non-woven fabric is designed just for this purpose. If you are protecting plants that are not actively growing in winter, you can use any fabric (old sheets and towels come to mind) or burlap, just stay away from shower curtains and other kinds of plastic covers, because they don’t let the air through and can overheat the plant on sunny days.
I then stitched it into a basic sac of the right size. A sowing machine is not necessary, but I still had it out after making Sophia’s halloween costume, so…
Next, to make a draw-string closure, I folded the opening of the sac and stitched it so that there’s a hollow space of about one inch.
Then I made a small incision in one side of the fold. This is where the string comes in (and out).
The classic way to push a string into the draw-string hollow is to tie one end to the clothes pin. For some reason I could not find a single pin in the apartment, but this screw looked quite well suited for the job.
I pushed the screw with attached string into the incision and along the hollow space…
…until it came full circle and stuck out again.
And that’s it, the warm air- and light-conductive winter cozy for a garden container is complete! If you have any kids around the house, it’s a good idea to let them play ghost before you put the cozy to use outdoors.
My potato crate has high walls, so even if the cozy gets covered with snow, the plants won’t be crushed. If you are covering a more traditional flower pot, make sure to provide a scaffold to support the cozy.
How do you winterize container plants?