Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Now Testing

Amy's Completely Unpatented Citrus Tree Warming System.   After much reflection about last years protective covering system, which required too much time and the purchase of a PVC pipe cutter among other things, I was convinced that there must be an easier way.  So far (approximately 5 weeks) the coverings I've placed this year on my Mandarin orange, Mexican lime and Key lime trees has kept them warm and green through some amazingly frigid Dallas weather.  And it was easier and cheaper.  The real test comes over the next few days....... 

So what is needed for you to build one for your cold-sensitive tree?  First, Christmas tree lights (multi-colored and non-LED) were wrapped around the tops of the trees and down the trunks to provide some low-level, non-scorching heat.  Then I purchased from Lowe's the thickest opaque plastic painters covering they had and some small stakes.  For these three trees I purchased two 9' x 12' sheets, cutting one in half for the two smaller trees.  Finally you need a stapler, just a regular stapler and extension cords long enough to reach to each tree.

For a good fit (not too loose or the wind will blow it off) you may have to trim or bend (if branches are immature) the branches to fit inside , but leave plenty of room for good air circulation because you can leave these on for the entire winter (at least I'm planning to).  I measured the plastic to equal the height of the tree plus three feet and the width of the tree time 3 - this seemed to allow plenty of room for the seams and bottom.  Fold the plastic in half width-wise, and beginning in the fold corner, across what will be the top you will begin to staple across.

Here's the important part - you want to staple, fold, fold, staple.  In other words, first staple the sides together, fairly close to the edge (maybe 1") every 6 inches, then fold the plastic over twice and staple the fold again.  This will prevent drafts and heat leakage as the winds try to find their way in.  Kind of like a restaurant entry vestibule. 

Once you have the top finished, throw the point (clarification - corner) over the top of the tree, this will give more room for the branches, then start closing the long side.  When you get to the bottom, plug in the Christmas lights and stake the plastic to the ground.  One of my trees kept pulling up the stakes, so I wrapped an old blanket around the bottom to help hold it in place.

I checked inside the Key lime tree enclosure yesterday while it was in the mid-40's outside, a big puff of warm, moist air escaped so I closed it back up, and the tree looks pretty healthy so far, no paled leaves or mold.  We'll see how it ends up after this Blue Norther comes to greet us.

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