The crape myrtles are finally admitting it’s autumn.
It’s about time, since the frosts are coming too. And you know what what that means: time to bag the tangerine tree. What? No, I am not composting it. [Honestly, the things of which you think me capable…]
I am of course talking about protecting the tree– protecting it from bitter, heartless, eternal-until-February cold. This little citrus tree (tangerine “Darcy” I think) has been doing moderately well since it utterly outgrew the greenhouse and I planted it up against a south-facing wall here in Zone maybe 7.5 to 8-ish (western Oregon).
There passed a difficult summer during which Someone thought she was giving the tree adequate water but Was Not and then she finally noticed this inadequacy and made the Correction maybe two weeks before the fall rains began…
But its leaves are growing back, and anyway here it is today and do notice a couple orangey fruitnesses on it even now–but no blooms at all. (Citrus trees can be somewhat vindictive.)
Now you may recall the herculean effort made last year to shelter this demanding little tree by virtually constructing a greenhouse around it. This was a staggeringly difficult and dazzlingly creative effort which involved a tall cylinder of wire fence, festive colored holiday lights for heat and a custom-fitted insulated but transparent cover composed of about $30/worth of bubblewrap and a lot of tape, with a removable top of same.
Above is the cover, as it looked just before we set it over the lighted tree and also before the first windy rainstorm arrived. That storm, and every other windy rainstorm after that, ALWAYS ripped off the top and dropped the sides into the dirt, even when I thought I had tied the sides UP and after I trimmed the top back to within an inch of its life. It was a distressing outcome which I shall not illustrate with photos out of consideration for sensitive readers and because I was so mad about it that I didn’t take pictures.
After I had wrestled with this wet, muddy ensemble for maybe the fifth time last winter it occurred to me that I might seek a better solution. (Well okay I DID think momentarily about the compost pile– just for a couple seconds.)
So today I am pleased to introduce this year’s fabulous new tree protection technology: a drawstring bag from FrostProtek.com. And please do not get all hung up on the spelling issues here–no just never mind that “protek” is not even a word…
Here is the shiny flyer that came with the FrostProtek plant cover.
Now, I’m a little uncomfortable with the sundresses associated with this product. “What the hell kind of winter is that?” I asked Max the terrier, “Is this bag really for when you run out of Coppertone SPF 50 on a hot afternoon and need emergency shade?”
And I see this item was of course manufactured in China… Well at least maybe in China it gets colder than in very southern California where that woman with the watering can lives probably by the beach where she will spend the afternoon flirting with surfer guys before the cocktail party on the deck at six and the moonlight sale at nine when the day will finally cool as she browses the open-air shopping mall. (Good thing she put a bag over those delicate garden tomatoes.)
So this new product is a soft, openly woven, very large (55 inches wide by 72 inches tall) drawstring bag. It lets in light and water and a certain amount of cold air so I may have to fortify it with a blanket if the weather goes nuts and gets really cold. But, this bag can’t fall off the tree. For those of us suffering from the traumatic stress of the Collapsed Muddy Bubblewrap of last year, the not falling off of the tree bit is BIG.
Mr. O built a sturdy but removable wooden structure which will support the bag and would also support any additional blankets we might need to toss on in a crisis:
Here is the cover on the frame, in a preliminary fitting.
We will have, you might say, a proper fit soon with holiday lights on the tree, for warmth, and a deep mulch of leaves around the base.
As always you can be assured that when winter ends I will give you the absolute honest truth of how this bag “performs” in my actual honest garden on my actual honest tree under whatever bizarre conditions are presented by the seriously-broken weather.
Really I’m feeling pretty darn confident about the new plant cover. It is secure against the wind, it will be heated from within by the lights, and it’s possible to enhance its warmth with blankets.
What could go wrong?