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JC's Garden
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Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

We don't have many winter nights in the 20's in SW Georgia but there are enough to hurt an unprotected tree. My compost generally maintains good heat through out the winter. My plans are to move the pile beside the lemon tree and cover both with a tarp on those coldest nights. Tarp has to come off in the daytime. Does this sound like a bad idea to anyone? Normally I'd just do it but there is this one major issue, it's my wife's tree.
2016-01-01 13.06.31.jpg

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ElizabethB
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

Hi JC.

Not the best idea. First you will create a "Volcano Pile" at the base of your tree. It is an invitation to harmful insects and disease

It also damages the outer bark and the cambium layer. A damaged cambium layer can kill your tree.

Florida is a very large producer of citrus. They use water to protect their citrus.

If you expect temperatures below freezing for 5 hours or more harvest your fruit. To protect your trees put a spray nozzle on your hose and bring it out to your trees. DO NOT turn the hose on. There should be no water in your hose.

Of course you need an outdoor thermostat. Not next to the house. Your house creates a false heat. Your thermometer needs to be at least 10' away from your house.

When your thermometer registers 28/30 degrees turn the water on and spray your trees. Soak the top and bottom of the leaves and trunk. Continue to water until the leaves and fruit are covered with ice top and bottom. You may loose your fruit but you will salvage your trees.

Commercial growers use smug pots, heaters and ice to keep their trees safe. Since this a home fruit tree you can keep it simple with the water method.

Happy New Year and good luck.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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applestar
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

For a simple protection for one or two small shrub sized trees, another idea might be to cover then put one or two weather proof utility light fixtures with incandescent bulbs under the cover.

I suspect you will need to experiment a little to determine the wattage light bulb needed, best placement, and whether the bottom of the cover needs to be snugly secured -- maybe with earth staples, lumber or bricks, buried edges, etc. And most importantly, if and when the light needs to be turned off and the cover needs to be removed next morning.

Some other members have mentioned using incandescent light bulbs in coldframes and under covers for freeze protection before. Off the top of my head, I think hendi_alex and pepperhead212 ....

Older incandescent Christmas lights can help in this way, too.... In fact, they can sometimes cause problems when wrapped around deciduous tree branches and left on them through the winter without due consideration because the trees don't properly go dormant.
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!potatoes!
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

i think it could work - especially since you're talking about uncovering daily.

i may be wrong but the first two objections of elizabeths don't really seem appropriate here. the picture shows what you mean, right, as far as compost pile location goes? the pile will be adjacent to, but not touching the tree?

you could also supplement with jugs/pots/buckets of water - especially if they can be delivered warm. incandecent bulbs is another good possibility.

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JC's Garden
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

Thanks all. Trying to get away from the light bulbs and just take advantage of the heat from the pile. No matter what, the tree has to be covered to prevent freeze damage. Losing citrus trees or production due to freezing is a common thing around here. Water is not practical when considering other things in the same area. I've used light fixtures in the past and the ambient moisture just tears them up. !potatoes! you are correct about the pile location and cover coming off. Temps in the teens are rare for us. I think hot water jugs would do well on teen nights. Thanks.

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JC's Garden
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

So far so good. After several freezing nights (upper 20's), leaves are green, no lemons dropped, still has blooms. Time will tell.

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JC's Garden
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

This is working much better than I thought. It's retained more leaves than normal and is even putting on new blooms. The lemons still look good too.
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applestar
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

Fantastic! Keep us updated periodically, won't you? I love reading about success stories. :D
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JC's Garden
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

Made it through another freeze. I am using old fitted sheets between the tree and tarp. It helps prevent freeze burn where the leaves are in contact. The tree was planted on the south side of the shed to block wind. The blooms are more plentiful on the side closest to the compost pile. I haven't lost any lemons. Looks like I'll have two crops this year. :-D
2016-02-10 10.11.25.jpg
2016-02-10 10.11.44.jpg

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applestar
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

This is great! :D
So you have pollinator activity? Or are you hand pollinating?

What do you see first? I think when it's earliest still and the the bee keepers aren't letting honeybees out yet, my first pollinators are carpenter bees and hoverflies. Sometimes I see masonbees that might have overwintered somewhere in the windowframe gap or found loose brick mortar to burrow in (I don't have a nest box for them).
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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JC's Garden
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Re: Protecting Meyer Lemon from freezing with compost pile.

Hi applestar.
We have very few pollinators right now. I don't get very many honey bees even in summer. My garden and yard is very friendly to native bees and carpenter bees. I use river cane to make houses for bees and wasp. Hoverflies will come later.
Today's high was 46. Tomorrow's is forecast for 66. Friday 73. Saturday back to 55. It needs to stay mid 60's and up for longer periods before pollinators return in significant numbers. I still have enough for my winter peas though.
Take a closer look at the bottom pic. I won't be hand pollinating. As is, I'll be propping up limbs to keep them from breaking. These lemons get almost as big as baseballs.

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