Winter Exposure of Troughs

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Last post
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21
Hoy wrote:

But don't they freeze from the top? And take longer time to thaw?

I would imagine, yes.  But that would be a good thing.  In this climate we can only grow things that like a deep freeze.  The point is that the styrofoam moderates the temperature swings, compare to hypertufa: less freeze/thaw cycles and slower warm ups and cool downs.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

I've found that hypertufa troughs start breaking up in my climate after a few years.  I have a couple of troughs that are pure cement and they're fine.  They've been finished in a way that's aesthetic.  The styrofoam troughs are marvelous in this garden and any future troughs will certainly be styrofoam.  They are also moveable, at least the ones of small and medium size.Rick, I agree with you about deep freeze.  The worst damage seems to be extreme fluctuations in temperatures (such as recently here).We are setting records for high temperatures and the plants are not happy.

Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I have about a dozen troughs...all far not a hitch in regards to breakage (and they are over 10 years old now).  I get far less heaving of plants in the troughs than in the open garden.  Generally I have little die off in the troughs and some plants do far better in the troughs like Kabschia saxifrages, while other do far better in the open garden like gentians.  Normally I get enough snow to insulate them but two have been exposed much of the winter and I will admit the material does not look great.

It has been an unsual winter here too...fluctuating temps in the extreme, but we are not experiencing the current heat that most of North America is currently having.  Still lots of snow in the garden and currently everything is covered in 15 mm of freezing rain.  But parts of the garden have been open most of the winter (in particular my crevice garden) and a couple of weeks ago we dropped to -14 C with 65 Km wind...MAJOR devastation.  The frost in those open areas is the deepest I've ever seen in my area, where normally, we have little frost in the ground.  My two Cremanthodiums are located in this open area...I hope they are root hardy! Worse, the cold wind dessicated all the evergreen alpines and erica in a single day.  The Delosperma, which looked fine up to that point, are now mush.  Veronica, Ramonda, Erica (except carnea) and other evergreen types are brown.  There is not a single green leaf left on my Fargesia. I hope there is some life left in the root to regenerate but with the frost so deep now, I hold out little hope.  I am thankful that parts of the garden are still under snow but my crevice garden will likely have lots of spots to fill this spring.

On the bright side, I will have space for all my new seedlings coming along!

Todd Boland St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada Zone 5b 1800 mm precipitation per year

cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

Our soil always freezes solid, and presumably to some depth, and for many months- I doubt any plant except some tree roots is able to grow below the frost line.. the frost in the ground typically begins before any notable snowfall--in wet and shady spots the surface can stay frozen in mid fall when days are still well above freezing.. dry soil, of course doesn't freeze so early, and dry sunny spots (mostly against some buildings or under spruce trees) probably thaw a lot sooner; shady damp spots are probably frozen for 5 to 6 months...The ground will also remain frozen in most places until some time after all the snow has melted- we can have a lot of surface water for a short time as the water cannot soak in until the ground thaws!So I don't believe (I wont say I know, because I can't claim to have the exact science!) the problem with pots/small troughs sitting on the surface is because the soil freezes--- all the soil here freezes-- but must be, as others say, the ups and downs of exposure, or quite possibly smaller units of soil reach lower temperatures than the main body of soil, even if they are all frozen...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F;

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

That's terrible, Todd.  I'm so sorry.  So far, my crevice gardens, which have been exposed all this basically snowless winter, have not seemed too bad.  It will be 70 today and it's quite dry and that will probably do more harm than anything so far.  These crazy temperatures will continue all week and it may even hit 80!  We're turning into Denver.

Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I am very sorry to hear about your devastating weather conditions Todd! I really hope you'll have the loss is less than you frighten :(

Trond Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!


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