CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It may not feel like it, but we’re just one week away from completing fall’s first month. Record-breaking highs in the 70s and 80s have blasted the Carolinas for much of October, while lows haven’t even approached spitting distance of the freezing mark.
However, with a powerful cold front on the way, swimsuit season will soon be all but over. The High Country could wake up to near-freezing wind chills Sunday morning. With our first frost on the way, and the growing season coming to a bitter end, here’s how to protect your leafy and furry friends — along with your wallet.
Bring Them Inside
The first solution is pretty obvious. You may have heard the age-old saying, “When you’re cold, they’re cold.” While most dogs and cats have a higher cold tolerance than humans, they are still susceptible to frostbite. Older animals are typically the most vulnerable. The number one best thing you can do to keep your furry friends safe from the frosty fall and winter chill is to bring them inside. Animal experts agree that most household pets should be kept inside when the temperature falls below 40°, regardless of frost formation.
Cold and frost damage costs the United States’ agricultural industry billions of dollars per year. Many of us may not be farmers, but it’s frustrating to see your money and hours of hard work go to waste when the frost claims a beloved plant, fruit-bearing or not. If the plant can be moved, the easiest and most effective way to keep it safe is to move it indoors.
For plants that can’t be moved inside, your next best option is to insulate them as best you can. Covering up your garden with a blanket or tarp will help your plants retain heat and fight off deadly frost. If you don’t have a big enough blanket, then covering each plant individually will have to do.
Make sure that your plants remain uncovered in the afternoon so that they can receive the maximum amount of heat possible.
If you have “outdoor” or free-roam pets, make sure they have some sort of shelter to take refuge in at night. If possible, cover the shelter with blankets or some other sort of insulation to provide maximum insulation.
Water in the Afternoon
As many of us know, it’s harder to warm water than the ground. This is due to the density and heat capacity of water. The same is true when it comes to the cold. Watering your plants during the afternoon, after the peak heat of the day, is another great way to keep your plants warm. At night, wetter soil will hold onto heat better than dry ground.
It may seem counterintuitive, but keeping the air around your garden moving is key to keeping it warm. As we learned in grade school, cold air tends to sink while warm air rises. On calm nights without a breeze, cold air will pool near the surface while warm air escapes upwards. Using a fan will keep the lower-level air mixed, which can raise the temperature by upwards of five degrees.
Far and away, the best way to keep plants and pets safe is to take them indoors. However, when that isn’t an option, these life-saving tips can help keep them safe. Not only will they thank you, but your wallet will, too!