Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Milky Anti-freeze

Record setting warm weather in March produced a very early blossom period for fruit trees and bushes here at Red Bucket Farm. We knew it was too good to be true. This week's sub-freezing temperatures have Wisconsin fruit growers in a panic.

I inquired on the yahoogroups organic fruit tree growers list whether there were any practical, organic measures I could take to protect my backyard orchard trees from overnight freeze. There was plenty of expert advice from the folks on that list. I learned that cellular integrity starts with calcium. Getting minerals and carbohydrates into the cells will lower the freezing point inside the cells and provide some frost protection.

Last night and tonight I sprayed my fruit trees and bushes with a mixture of water, milk (for calcium and phosphates), molasses (for carbohydrates) and fish emulsion (for minerals and oils).

Early this morning our thermometer indicated 31 degrees, and the water in the chicken coop was not frozen. We may have avoided serious damage last night as the breezes kept the air moving. After a windy and cold day today, the wind has calmed down tonight and the forecast is for slightly colder temps than last night. We are worried that tonight will be more difficult for the blossoms and tiny fruit.

Sometimes it's strangely stressful to be an urban farmer. My livelihood certainly does not depend on my fruit crop; I was simply looking forward to my homegrown fruits. Whether the fruit survives or not, it's gratifying to live a little closer to the elements, to be aware of every degree of temperature and the changing breezes.  

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