Freezing temperatures expected across Bay Area


Protecting their plant, pipes, and pets, Petaluma residents were doing it all Tuesday in preparation for Tuesday night's freezing temperatures.

"That's one thing about nursery, green, anything agriculture, there's always a problem with something," Petaluma-based rose grower Nick Neve said. For Neve, the expected frost is nothing new. "We get a lot of temperatures reaching into the mid to low 30s and we know how to deal with it," he says.

And, the fourth-generation grower has no choice but to deal with the cost that comes along with it. Natural gas pipes run steam through the nursery and keep the greenhouses and roses warm at night. They aim to keep the greenhouse about 62 degrees, but on a night when it's below 30 outside, that's a 50-75 percent increase in gas consumption, hundreds of dollars more each cold night. "We really don't have a choice you know? This time of year, with the Christmas crop, and then we've already prepared our Valentine's Day crop, so we have to keep the heat running," he explained.

People with outdoor plants, especially young citrus trees or succulents, should water them before the freezing temperatures hit and then use frost cloth to cover them overnight. "By cover them, you don't actually want the frost cloth to be on top of the plant. You want it raised up a little bit. So, what we would use is like bamboo stakes and drape the cloth over that, kind of making a little tent, and it raises the temperature under that tent to the level that those particular plants are going to survive the cold," Fionuala Campion with Cottage Gardens of Petaluma explained.

At Cottage Gardens of Petaluma, even nursery dog Elsie was bundled up Tuesday in preparation for the cold. From pets to pipes, outdoor pipes are something else to consider covering with insulation you can find at a plumbing supply. Still, Petaluma plumber Bill Dolcini says it would take extreme conditions, multiple days in a row of below-freezing temperatures, to make a pipe burst in our area. "It would need to be multiple days in the lows 20s, but if it got down to 18, 16, yes, one day will do it," he said.

If you want to protect your pipes but don't have proper insulation, you can simply use an old sock. Also, if you don't have a frost cloth at the ready, you can use an umbrella to protect your plants or pull any small potted plants underneath the eaves of your home.

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