Country Lore: Fight Freezing Temps

Readers' tips on saving plants from cold weather, deterring deer, and canning tomato sauce.

 Warmed-by-the-sun water jugs help keep plants toasty during autumn’s cold nights.

Fight Freezing Temps

My garden is in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 and 4. The past two years, I’ve tried growing hardy cantaloupe and watermelon. They don’t ripen off the vine, so picking them just before a freeze wouldn’t work. Last fall, my fruits were so close to ripe, and yet a week of subfreezing temperatures was predicted. So, I used two 5-gallon buckets, one at either end, to hold up a 6-foot ladder. I painted several milk jugs red and filled them three-quarters full of water; after leaving them out in the sun during the day to absorb heat, they radiated it out when temperatures dropped at night. I then covered the ladder and jug setup with clear plastic, and used a few jugs to hold the plastic down around the edges. This setup maintained 40 degrees Fahrenheit inside on 26-degree nights. It’s easily portable, too, so I can move it wherever I plant my melons next year.

Mary Martin
Rexburg, Idaho

Deer Deterrent

I live in a suburban community within a mile or so of a nature reserve. Deer have been a minor problem that we controlled with minimal measures. Until last year. Last summer, they destroyed my bean, beets, tomatoes, and peppers within a week.


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