This is Part II of the vagaries of winter weather and what we, as gardeners, can do to avoid the hazard of winter kill.
1. When the ground freezes in early November, mulch all of your trees, shrubs and perennials with 2-3 inches of an organic material such as leaves, woodchips, straw, etc. DO NOT spread the mulch up the tree trunk creating a volcano look! Replicate the inner tube look. This will keep the soil frozen and prevent frost heave.
2. To avoid a too early awakening in the daffodil beds (daffodils never froze in the "old days" they do now) I mulch with 6 inches of ground up leaves in the fall. This keeps them sleeping longer, because the ground is kept colder longer. Make sure you mow the leaves before using them as mulch. You don't want the leaves to form matts that the plants can't get through in the spring, mowing them will take care of this problem.
3. To avoid wind-burn, plant most evergreens on the East side of the house (or wind break if you have one). Here is where you will find my Holly, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. If your evergreens are on the North, South or West side of your home, cover with extra snow or boughs from your Christmas tree or wrap in burlap. When thinking about new plantings, remember it's easier to go the East side route!
4. If October is dry, be sure to water the ground well under your evergreens. This will allow them to 'tank up' like a camel, before the long winter journey.
5. Late spring frosts can usually be foiled by covering plants when the temperature drops below 28 degrees F. Tossing a sheet over the blueberry bush and strawberry row saved the crop in 2012 for me. Keep an eye on the forecast and if you live in an area that is typically a little cooler then the surrounding landscape, you might want to cover your plants when the temperature is forecast in the low 30's. It is better to be safe than crop-less.
Remember: Mother Nature always wins. So instead of fighting her, adapt. According to some scientific predication models, Allegany County will have the climate of Atlanta Georgia by the end of the century. IMAGINE THAT!
Mary Lu Wells is master
gardener at Cornell University Cooperative Extension