The fact that April likes to do its own thing weather-wise is nothing new. In 2024, the moods of the fourth month of the year, which is feared by farmers and allotment gardeners, will put their nerves to a very special test. At first you thought you were already on summer vacation. In the first days of April, temperatures climbed to 30 degrees Celsius in some places. No joke. Karsten Friedrich from the German Weather Service (DWD) calls these extreme values ​​“remarkable”. Nature immediately flipped the switch. The fruit trees in particular happily began to bloom at the end of March. Lawn grasses also woke up unusually early from their hibernation.

Only the bravest hobby gardeners took advantage of the unexpectedly mild weather to release parts of their cultivation into the fresh air at the first breath of summer. A bowl of cold air with snowfall and ground frost is now ruining their mood. But how do you protect the young and sensitive buds and flowers of cherries, apples and plums? Can the young vegetables still be saved once they are outdoors? Five tips to protect your plants on the balcony and in the garden.

Garden fleece is the classic and a proven weapon to protect young plants on cold nights. The thin plastic fabric has several beneficial properties. Not only does it ward off the cold from outside, but it also stores the important solar energy that hits the ground during the day. If used correctly, the plant cover can be used for several years. Problematic: The plastic fabric is anything but biodegradable. Plastic-free variants, such as felt mats made from sheep’s wool, are available as fleece alternatives.

The fleece is placed loosely on the bed and weighted down with stones at the edge. Even more elegant: a so-called fleece tunnel. To do this, stick several willow rods (or other flexible rods) a little apart in an arch over the bed and throw the fleece over them.

If you couldn’t wait and have already planted spring flowers in your balcony boxes or flower pots, you should react quickly in the event of frost. Forget-me-nots, pansies and many primrose species in particular cannot cope with sub-zero temperatures. Fleece or alternatives also help here. In the best case scenario, you bring the boxes into the house or apartment overnight. Small problem: The flowers suffer a heat shock in the comfortably heated living room. They feel significantly more comfortable in the cooler hallway or bedroom. Important: If the flower boxes have been outside for a long time, they should stay there. In this case, they have already gotten used to the frosty temperatures and are content with a thin fleece blanket. Even particularly heavy buckets should not be constantly moved from outside to inside and back.

That sounds a bit strange at first. But the lawn, which has grown quite tall in recent summer temperatures, can absorb much less heat than a short-mown meadow. Because of the larger area, the sun’s rays can warm the ground better. This in turn stores this heat and acts as a kind of night storage heater on frosty nights. A blessing for the roots of fruit trees, berry bushes and perennials.

Greenhouses are a nice thing. They protect sensitive vegetables from wind and precipitation. But even the foils or plastic panels cannot do anything against frost. So if you move young cucumber plants or other cold-sensitive vegetables into the greenhouse in April, you need a heater. One that compensates for abrupt temperature fluctuations. And this is where the Frost Guards come into play. The highlight of the mobile heat dispensers: They only start operating when the room temperature falls below a preset value. Important: In order to operate the frost monitor, there should be a power connection near the greenhouse.

While you can easily protect plants close to the ground from frost with a fleece or alternatives, this is more difficult with fruit trees. Young, flowering apple trees, apricots and plums are particularly sensitive and should be packed. To do this, you insert one or more sticks into the ground to support the weight of the fleece and prevent the flowers from being damaged. For larger trees, professionals use so-called frost protection candles. These are small buckets filled with paraffin with a wick stuck in them. Important: The candle must burn before the thermometer falls below the zero degree limit.

Budget hunters or gardeners who don’t have space for a greenhouse in their plot can make do with a clothes horse. If possible, place the stand over the plants to be protected before the frosty night and throw a fleece or bed sheet over it that reaches to the ground on all sides. Weigh the whole thing down with stones and the temporary greenhouse is ready. Remember to remove the sheet when temperatures are above zero, as a lack of light is just as damaging to the plants in the long term as frosty nights.

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