For the gardener it’s heartbreaking to open the curtains in the morning to find the garden covered in frost. As the winter sunshine hangs low in the sky, frost can linger in the garden or on the allotment for the majority of the day. However disheartening, there are benefits for a prolonged period of frost.
A ‘hard frost’ is when the ground is frozen over a long period of time, usually a week. In recent years not many places in the UK have experienced this. Yes, we still get frost but it is usually gone by midday.
Over recent years there has been a large volume of pests in the garden and they appear to be getting stronger as the years roll on. With a hard frost, this helps kill a lot of these pests, giving the gardener at least half-a-chance of success.
So when you open the curtains and feel down at the site of frost and not being able to garden, just remember that the more frost you see over winter, the less pests you’ll see over summer.
If you do venture into the garden, stay off the lawn. Walking over a frozen lawn can kill the grass and you’ll end up with brown patches where you have walked.
At the allotment, stay off the ground until it has defrosted. Attempting to dig the soil or walking over it can destroy the life beneath. If you do have to walk over the soil, use something like floorboards to work from. At this time of the year it’s best to stay in the shed and clean-up with a hot mug of tea and plan the year ahead.
If you have a pond, never crack the ice, this can kill whatever is living in the water. Plan ahead and put a football to float on top, this keeps an area of the pond ice free and allows fresh air into the pond.
If you forgot the football technique and find it completely covered with a layer of ice – boil a saucepan of water and very gently hover the pan on top of the ice without letting go of it. The ice will gently defrost and a perfectly round section of ice will fall away. Never let go of the pan otherwise the hot water entering the pond could kill the life beyond the water.