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Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 9CALIFORNIA LIFE


This week, a popular product celebrates more than 50 years of package protection – with a little extra pop. Monday is Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.

Invented in 1960, Bubble Wrap was intended to be textured wallpaper. When that didn't catch on, its creators tried marketing it as greenhouse insulation under the name Air Cap.

Now, Sealed Air Corp. makes enough Bubble Wrap cushioning each year to stretch to the moon and back.

Bubble Wrap has more than 2 million fans on Facebook. Why? Most of them like to pop the little air pockets.

Besides cushioning (and endless hours of popping entertainment), Bubble Wrap offers many uses in the home and garden. Among the ideas:

• Fruit protector: Place sheets of Bubble Wrap on the bottom of your refrigerator's crisper compartment to protect fruit and vegetables from bruising.

• Freezer efficiency: Fill spaces in between frozen food in your freezer with Bubble Wrap. Packing the items tight helps your freezer work more efficiently.

• Window insulator: Cut Bubble Wrap to the same size as panes, spray the glass lightly with water and apply the flat side of the wrap to the glass.

• Plant protector: For container plants that are susceptible to cold but can't be moved inside, line the inside of the planter pots with Bubble Wrap to prevent compost and soil from freezing and damaging the roots. Make sure not to cover the drainage hole.

• Frost protection: Use Bubble Wrap as a blanket to protect plants while still letting the sun shine in.

• Winterize pipes: Use Bubble Wrap to wrap outdoor spigots and pipes; use string or rubber bands to secure.

• Greenhouse insulator: That use still works, too.

For more creative uses (including Bubble Wrap chocolate molds), click on


Be ready for frost. We've had plenty of chilly nights so far this year – and probably will have more.

Historically, Sacramento isn't out of frost danger until March 23.

Take these cold nights to evaluate the microclimates within your own garden. Some spots – particularly in low areas away from buildings – are colder than others. Likewise, sensitive plants get a little extra warmth next to south- or west-facing walls.

If freezing temperatures are forecast, here's how you can protect your home and garden:

• Bring pets indoors. Yes, they have fur coats – but they still get cold!

• Water plants lightly in late afternoon or early evening before the frost hits. Wet soil holds more heat than dry soil. This also raises the humidity level.

• The plants most at risk are citrus, tropicals, succulents, tender perennials and new transplants.

• Move potted plants to overnight shelter such as the garage or covered patio. Or move them close to a south-facing wall.

• Cover sensitive plants at night with frost cloths, burlap or fabric sheets – not plastic. Sheets can raise the temperature 5 degrees. Allow a little room for air circulation under the cover; that helps keep in the warmth. But coverings should reach the ground. Remove the coverings in the morning so plants can breathe.

• Avoid plastic sheets. Clear plastic won't hold in warmth and black plastic bags will cook the plants you're trying to save.

• String old-fashioned Christmas lights (C-7 or C-9 types) on the trunks and limbs of citrus or avocado trees or large plants. Bigger lights put out more heat than minis.

• Cover tender transplants with "hot caps," individual greenhouses made of waxed paper. Cut a 12-inch piece, form a cone and secure with tape. Place the cone over the transplant. Or use a plastic water bottle with the bottom cut out; discard the cap.

Those protectors can stay in place until the frost danger has passed.

• Mulch mounds can protect the fragile fruit on strawberries and young leaves on lettuce. Cover whole plants with dried leaves or straw, then carefully remove the mulch after frost danger has passed.

• To keep pipes from freezing, let faucets drip. Or wrap pipes in foam protection or insulated tape.

• Cover pool or spa equipment with insulated cloths.

• Remove water from birdbaths; otherwise, they may freeze and crack.

• If plants show frost burn, leave the brown leaves alone until all frost danger is past – after March 23. They help protect the plant from further damage. Many tender perennials and shrubs will grow back if the frost damage wasn't too severe.

– Debbie Arrington

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