December 2, 2020
The hard freeze we have been expecting for the last week finally arrived. We have been cautious about our in-ground succulents. I have mentioned that we covered them with greenhouse netting last week before we got the initial freeze. They have done well and even taken on a little color due to being stressed by the cold. Melissa was afraid they might not survive the hard freeze even with the cloth covering. She waivered back and forth about putting a layer of plastic over them. Finally, after dark and with the temperature falling, she decided they needed to be covered. Rather than the plastic, we covered them with old afghans we had in the closet. We went to bed as the temperatures dropped.
Melissa purchased a digital weather station originally intended to replace the thermometer we use to track the temperature on the porch. This displays both temperature and humidity and has a memory setting that will display the maximum and minimum temps over the last 24 hours. While it is easy to check the porch temp, it is more difficult to go outside and read the gauge under the mess netting. That is especially true at night as the temperatures drop. Several days ago, I figured out how to set the device up (relatively easy) and put it on the outside bed as a test. The temperatures dropped to 26F, but the mesh kept the plants at 29F. Still cold but doable.
When Melissa checked on the plants the morning after the hard freeze, they were doing fine. None of the succulents had suffered frost burn and they all looked healthy. The gauge confirmed the afghans had done their work. The memory feature on the thermometer indicated the minimum reached was a toasty 29F. The elephant ears (Colocasia) on the other side of the walk did not fare so well. They have been continuing to flourish despite the cold, although the seed pods had never produced identifiable seed. When I checked after the hard freeze, they had all withered and laid dead on the ground. This is the annual cycle of garden life.
Thoughts: There are several proven ways to learn what works and what does not when it comes to gardening. Melissa relies on the experts to provide information from their experience to let her know what they have found. Some of this is online and some from gardener friends she has cultivated (Ha Ha). The other way is through trial and error. If something you try works, you do it again. If it does not, the plants wither and you start over with new plants. The same can be said about the pandemic. We can listen to the experts and do what has been shown to work in the past, or we can use trial and error and hope for the best. Hoping for the best has not worked well so far. People are not as interchangeable as plants. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.