Farmers and gardeners prepare for hard freeze in South Jersey

Growers say spring freezes like the one we are experiencing this week are a big challenge.
SEWELL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As this week's spring freeze continues Monday night into Tuesday, farmers in south Jersey are keeping a close eye on their crops.

David Duffield checked on the peach trees on his family's farm in Sewell, New Jersey on Monday morning.

"We have peaches that are in almost full bloom on this one branch, and these are really susceptible to the freezing cold temperatures we're getting," said Duffield. "They're not protected at all."

He says the peach blossoms that are in bloom likely won't make it, but he expects the many buds that are closed will become large, ripe peaches to be sold at the farm's market.

Strawberries are under cover and tomatoes in the greenhouse will have to wait a little longer before they're moved outside.

Duffield says spring freezes like this one are a big challenge.

"Last year was a tremendous year, we had too much fruit, we had to thin off. But the year before that we lost a lot of crop," said Duffield.

On Monday, snow squalls pushed through the area and temperatures are expected to dip into the teens and twenties Monday night.

So what about plants and gardens at home?

"At night time, that's where the damage starts happening. Let's pay attention to what those lows are going to be and let's act accordingly," said Antoni Basir, manager at McNaughton's Gardens in Cherry Hill.

He says anything with new growth is especially susceptible to damage from the cold.

"We want to take an opportunity to kind of cover those up. And we're not keeping them warm by any stretch, but what we are doing, is we're keeping some of that frost off of new leaves which will end up burning them," said Basir.

He says anything from burlap to a bedsheet can work to protect plants from frost.

"Remember to tuck it either into the soil or put something heavy all the way around it because the wind is going to be kicking up pretty epically as well.

If you haven't planted your spring plants outside yet and you want to be safe, Mother's Day is typically a safe bet to avoid a freeze.
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