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Protect your flowers and plants from the first frost to enjoy health benefits of gardening longer

An early frost can mean a sudden end to the growing season. But there are ways to protect plants from dipping temperatures. In this episode of "Health Fusion," Viv Williams has tips on how to cover your flowers and vegetables so you can enjoy the health benefits of gardening longer into the fall season.

Pink flowers
Protecting blooms from frost may help extend the growing season.
Viv Williams / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — An early first frost can wipe out a garden of blooms or vegetables. Sometimes that initial hit is followed by weeks of warmth, so it can be worth it to cover plants to try and extend the season.

You don't need fancy stuff, just lightweight bed sheets, towels or drop cloths and a bunch of clothespins. Some say plastic is not ideal, but I opted for long rolls of very lightweight plastic drop cloths in order to cover many rows of pants. You can also use frost fabric found at some garden centers. The University of Minnesota Extension website has information on various types of frost prevention covers, including row covers, tents and cold frames.

How to cover plants to protect them from an early frost:

  • Before you cover your flowers, water them. Moist soil retains heat more effectively than dry soil.
  • Next, try not to let the plastic or fabric touch the plants when you're covering them. Creating space between the flowers and the cover material prevents moisture build-up and the weight of the fabric from causing damage. The idea is to trap warm air in and to keep the cold air out.
  • If you have potted plants, you can take them inside. If they're too heavy to safely move, cover them too.

The next morning, gently uncover your plants. There's no guarantee that your frost protection method will work. But when you live where the growing season is short, trying to extend it a little longer is definitely worth the effort.

MORE HEALTH FUSION:
When your alarm clock goes off, do you hop out of bed feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day? Or are you groggy, tired and would rather hit snooze and sleep longer? A new study shows that the secret to feeling more energetic in the morning is to do three things. Viv Williams has the details in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."

Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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