Living in the temperate zone of 8b in the Pacific Northwest, we face rain and wind a lot more than we do cold snaps. But every year we usually see a vicious week or so of cold, often coming down from Canada, out of the Fraser River Valley. This week one is starting up, so we spent the past few weeks making sure everything was set up for it. It has brought clear skies mostly, which made the work easier to do.
So what should you do to ensure the cold not negatively affecting your homestead and/or garden?
- Change all animal bedding, and lay in a new bedding and do it thickly. Your animals will thank you.
- Make sure that your chickens and ducks have a place to bed down, out of the wind.
- Up their feed a bit. Give them extra calories.
- Clean out all their water containers well and stock it up with clean water. Use rubber containers so you can kick them to break up ice, as needed.
Around the homestead/gardens:
- Disconnect all hoses from water hydrants and from buildings. If on buildings, be sure to put insulated covers on the faucets. If your water hydrants are frost safe, don’t worry. Try to drain all your hoses well. We use black real rubber ones, they warm up in the day thankfully.
- Bring in any plants that you might have overlooked if the winter has been warm (which this year it has been pretty temperate, in the 40 to 50’s during the day, and rarely even a light frost). You don’t need to haul them in the house, a garage or shop is fine, as is pop up greenhouses, you just want them more protected. For example, I had succulents in pots I had forgotten about, and they are in the greenhouse now.
- Use cold snaps as a reminder to clean up your greenhouse, if you have one. We spent our time on Sunday cleaning it out for the year. The ducks live at night in ours, so it needed a sprucing up.
- If you have started seeds, now is the time to make sure they are protected. Make sure all your trays are under cover in a greenhouse, or pop up greenhouse. If your seeds have started sprouting, I highly recommend covering them with frost fabric. This is the only time I baby anything – is laying down the fabric over the trays. It adds 5 to 10 degrees protection.
- If you have citrus or similar more delicate plants in your greenhouse, cover them as well with frost fabric, if your greenhouse is not heated. It really does make a difference.
- Check around the garden looking for buckets, pots or watering cans with water in them, knock out the water so it doesn’t freeze inside and potentially expand, causing cracks later.