water to alleviate dry cold?

klew(Z7b/8, NE PDX, OR)December 27, 2009

Once again the (very) cold, dry wind is whistling down the Columbia Gorge and across my yard, desiccating everything.

My question is: should I water to help alleviate the drying effects of the wind, or does that just give the below-freezing temps an opportunity to add more damage to the plants?

As always, the accumulated wisdom of you all is invaluable.

Thanks, and happy new year!

klew

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plantknitter(8)

I was wondering about that a few weeks ago here.
Don't they water the citrus trees in Florida when it's freezing? and the ice on the leaves then protects from the cold and the subsequent dessication?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 12:28PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Sheltering garden with hardy hedges and protecting roots with mulching. Choosing and planting of hardy plants.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 1:58PM
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klew(Z7b/8, NE PDX, OR)

You are so right, bboy. Unfortunately, the young plants currently getting hammered are the beginnings of the hardy hedge. Once they are really established, I don't expect them to suffer as much as they seem to be right now.

Also unfortunately, some of the mulch (leaf mould) has blown away!

I know, I sound like a whiner. Well, in a couple of years, the shrubs will be larger, and all should be well...or else I'll just have to rethink the hedge strategy.

Thanks for weighing in.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 6:17PM
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larry_gene

Saturday
PDX: 45mph gust
Rooster Rock: 54mph gust

Here in SE Portland, the neighbor's siding has come loose and another neighbor's shed roof is peeling back.

The best protection in advance of a cold spell is to have wet soil before the freeze, and I think the soil is wet enough around here from nearly 3" of December rain to date.

Covering the young plants would be helpful, but in this wind you really have to weigh down the covers (full bricks). Our cedar chips that we use for decor and cat defense blow around the yard, so mulching material has to be dense indeed. You are not alone, the east wind makes me whiny, too.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:36PM
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hallerlake

Have you thought about setting up a windbreak to cut the dessicating effects of the wind?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 7:48PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Yes, wet soil can alleviate cold damage. Extreme cold around here tends to be very very dry weather, and the plants desiccate when they can't replace water lost from the leaves because the soil is either dry or frozen. The trick is to make sure the plants are well watered long before the soil freezes so the plants have a chance to absorb the water, if they need it, before it freezes. Once the soil is frozen water won't help.

Watering citrus in freezes is totally different. What they do there, is sprinkle water on the trees as the temperature is below freezing. As the water on the leaves freezes it gives off heat, which will keep the leaves themselves from freezing so long as temperatures are only a little below freezing. Most citrus are very frost tender, so even a few degrees below freezing can do major damage, especially since most orange varieties seem to ripen in the dead of winter. One hard frost can wipe out the entire year's crop, right before harvest. Our normal winter minimums can kill a lemon or grapefruit tree outright, and kill an orange tree back to the main trunk. Sprinkling wouldn't help in that situation.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 1:53AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I thought the method was to overhead irrigate right at the time frost is occurring, so that the citrus plants are encased in a protective layer of ice.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 12:29AM
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larry_gene

Thursday Rooster Rock wind: 66mph.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 1:09AM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Bet the rooster did not remain on the rock that day.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 1:14PM
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larry_gene

...and the climbers and nudists likely stayed away.

Hardy young people at Crown Point have been shown on local TV news lately holding up digital wind gauges (and each other), showing readings near 100mph. The TV reporter was blown down the steps of this historical building. This is more entertaining than the usual TV news fare of watching for the first snowflake of winter to fall (the reporter was not hurt).

Not that it's that windy in Portland, but even if you divide the Gorge readings by two, it is still plenty windy. The neighbor's shed roof chunk mentioned above blew down into our yard during a less common SW bluster the other day.

The ground remains quite damp and no watering is needed.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 11:39PM
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lalameija(8 oregon)

There is a product out there called Anti-Stress 2000. It is a polymer that is sprayed onto plants in the winter to keep the leaves from drying out. (also works to keep cuttings from wilting)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 3:49AM
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