Intermatic Timers-Why you should not use them for misting systems

Intermatic_timer
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using an Intermatic timer. In fact, I own a few myself; one controls my hot water heater,  but if you are looking for an Intermatic timer to control your misting system, you may want to think again.

Although mechanical timers like the Intermatic timer have been used for many years to successfully control intermittent misting systems, there have been great advancements within the last few years with digital technology that far surpasses what those mechanical timers can do.

First, lets have some comparisons:

Mechanically operated misting systems have many more components and moving parts than the newer digital ones. Below is a list of components needed for each type of system.

Mechanical misting system require the following:

  • 24 hour timer
  • interval timer
  • 24 volt transformer
  • water piping
  • misting nozzles
  • assorted wire (for high and low voltage)

Digital misting systems require:

  • digital timer
  • water piping
  • misting nozzles
  • length of wire (low voltage)

So right from the start the newer digital timer controlled misting system requires fewer components to purchase. Why?

The new digital misting timers replace the 24 hour and interval timer as well as the
transformer. Along with replacing these components, the entire digital misting timer
takes up much less space. Two mechanical timers along with the transformer will take up
an area about 12 inches by 18 inches, where the digital timer will take up an area 4 inches
by 8 inches and include both timers and transformer.
Two other features of the digital misting timer worth mentioning are the ability to use the
timer to control 6 entirely different misting beds separately and the battery backup.
Mechanical misting systems generally control only one misting bed (or “zone”) with only
one program. Every cutting in the bed (“zone”) gets the same amount of mist. Digital
timers increase the number of beds (“zones”) you can mist by five times as mechanical
systems. They accomplish this by being able to have 6 entirely different programs, one
for each “zone”. Each zone operates independently of each other.
The battery backup is by far the best feature of the digitally controlled misting system. In
the event of a power failure, the battery will retain the program that was set. Once power
is restored, the timer automatically knows whether it needs to mist according to the
program, or whether it needs to wait until the next day. In the event of a power failure
with mechanically controlled misting systems, YOU have to physically adjust the 24 hour
timer to get the system running again. If you are unaware that the power had gone out for
a number of hours, the mechanical systems program will be off by the same number of
hours. Your cuttings could receive mist during the evening hours, which may lead to
stress, or receive no mist at all during the hottest hours of the day, which would surely
kill them.
Intermittent misting systems that use digital timers require only minimal supervision to
ensure the system is operating correctly, there are no broken pipes or leaks, and to ensure
the cuttings are getting the correct amount of mist. This can usually be accomplished in a
few minutes time, then you can walk away knowing the system is taking care of
everything all by itself.

So to recap:

  • Digital misting system controllers require less space
  • contains the required two timers and transformer
  • is much safer because it uses low voltage
  • can control many more zones
  • has a battery backup that will retain the programming in the event of a power failure
  • is smart enough to know if it needs to mist after the power is restored
  • is much less expensive than the two timers needed for the mechanically operated misting system

Oh, did you notice that last bullet point? Yes, the newer digital misting timers are much less expensive then the Intermatic type mechanical timers. On average, a digital timer will cost less than $100. A 24 hour mechanical timer costs around $30-$40, and the 24 volt transformer can usually be purchased for about $20. Not bad actually, but the interval timer that will control the actual mist duration is extremely expensive, and that is if you can actually find the one you need. This timer alone is more than $100. Yes, you read that right, OVER $100 just for one mechanical timer.

So, for comparison:

  • Digital timers include the 24 hour timer, interval timer, and transformer. You need to purchase a 24 hour timer, interval timer, and transformer for the mechanical system.
  • Digital timers can control 6 individual beds/zones, all with different durations and frequencies. Mechanical timers can control 1 zone and regardless of how large it is, the bed all gets the exact same amount of mist regardless of the plant’s requirements.
  • Digital timers immediately convert 110 volt household current to a much safer 24 volts. Every part of the digital misting system including the timer is low voltage, and extremely safe to work on. The 110 voltage that a mechanical misting system that uses Intermatic type timers is carried through both timers to the transformer where it is then converted to a lower and safer 24 volts.
  • A digital misting timer has a battery backup that retains the timers program in the event of a power failure. When the power is restored, the timer is intelligent enough to know whether it needs to begin misting immediately or wait until the next day, resulting in little human intervention. A misting system that is controlled by mechanical timers has no feature that can determine whether it should begin to mist. Mechanical timers MUST have electricity at all times to be able to keep track of the time. When the power is interrupted , the timers clock stops working and will only resume when the power is restored. For lengthy power outages, this can be a disaster. When the power is restored, the timer will continue to run as if the power was never interrupted . Your cuttings may receive mist during the evening or other times when they should not. Using mechanical timers to control your misting system requires the human operator to frequently check to be sure the system is running correctly.
  • Digital misting timers are MUCH less expensive than just ONE of the mechanical misting timers.




The Secret of Rooting Cuttings

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The secret of rooting cuttings can be summed up in two words.

“Timing and technique”.

When you do your cuttings is every bit as important as how you do them. So if you do the right thing, at the right time of the year, your efforts are sure to bring success. Through this article you will learn both.

“Rooting Hardwood Cuttings of Deciduous Plants”

Hardwood cuttings are much more durable than softwood cuttings which is why hardwoods are the best technique for the home gardener. A deciduous plant is a plant that loses it’s leaves during the winter. All plants go dormant during the winter, but evergreens keep their foliage. Many people don’t consider Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and and Mountain Laurel evergreens, but they are. They are known as broad leaf evergreens. Any plant that completely loses it’s leaves is a deciduous plant.

There are three different techniques for rooting cuttings of deciduous plants. Two methods for hardwood cuttings, and one for softwood cuttings.   In this article we are only going to discuss rooting cuttings using the hardwood methods.  If you are interested in softwood cuttings, you’ll find a very informative article at http://www.freeplants.com

Of the two hardwood techniques is one better than the other? It depends on exactly what you are rooting, what the soil conditions are at your house, and what Mother Nature has up her sleeve for the coming winter. I have experienced both success and failure using each method. Only experimentation will determine what works best for you. Try some cuttings using each method.

When doing hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants, you should wait until the parent plants are completely dormant. This does not happen until you’ve experienced a good hard freeze where the temperature dips down below 32 degrees F. for a period of several hours. Here in northeastern Ohio this usually occurs around mid November.

Unlike softwood cuttings of deciduous plants, where you only take tip cuttings from the ends of the branches, that rule does not apply to hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants. For instance, a plant such as Forsythia can grow as much as four feet in one season. In that case, you can use all of the current years growth to make hardwood cuttings.

You might be able to get six or eight cuttings from one branch. Grapes are extremely vigorous. A grape vine can grow up to ten feet or more in one season. That entire vine can be used for hardwood cuttings. Of course with grape vines, there is considerable space between the buds, so the cuttings have to be much longer than most other deciduous plants. The average length of a hardwood grape vine cutting is about 12” and still only has 3 or 4 buds. The bud spacing on most other deciduous plants is much closer, so the cuttings only need to be about 6- 8” in length.

Making a deciduous hardwood cutting is quite easy. Just collect some branches (known as canes) from the parent plants. Clip these canes into cuttings about 6” long. Of course these canes will not have any leaves on them because the plant is dormant, but if you examine the canes closely you will see little bumps along the cane. These bumps are bud unions. They are next year’s leaf buds or nodes, as they are often called.

When making a hardwood cutting of a deciduous plant it is best to make the cut at the bottom, or the butt end of the cutting just below a node, and make the cut at the top of the cutting about 3/4” above a node. This technique serves two purposes. One, it makes it easier for you to distinguish the top of the cutting from the bottom of the cutting as you handle them. It also aids the cutting in two different ways. Any time you cut a plant above a node, the section of stem left above that node will die back to the top node. So if you were to leave 1/2” of stem below the bottom node, it would just die back anyway. Having that section of dead wood underground is not a good idea. It is only a place for insects and disease to hide.

It is also helpful to actually injure a plant slightly when trying to force it to develop roots. When a plant is injured, it develops a callous over the wound as protection. This callous build up is necessary before roots will develop. Cutting just below a node on the bottom of a cutting causes the plant to develop callous and eventually, roots. Making the cut on the top of the cutting 3/4” above the node is done so that the 3/4” section of stem above the node will provide protection for the top node. This keeps the buds from being damaged or knocked off during handling and planting. You can press down on the cutting without harming the buds.

When rooting cuttings this way it helps to make the cut at the top of the cutting at an angle. This sheds water away from the cut end of the cutting and helps to reduce the chance of disease. Once you have all of your cuttings made, dip the bottom of the cutting in a rooting compound. Make sure you have the right strength rooting compound (available at most garden stores) for hardwood cuttings. Line them up so the butt ends are even and tie them into bundles.

Select a spot in your garden that is in full sun. Dig a hole about 12” deep and large enough to hold all of the bundles of cuttings. Place the bundles of cuttings in the hole upside down. The butt ends of the cuttings should be up. The butt ends of the cuttings should be about 6” below the surface. Cover the cuttings completely with soil and mark the location with a stake, so you can find them again in the spring.

I know this sounds crazy, but rooting cuttings this way does work.  To increase your chances of success you can cover the butt ends of the cuttings with moist peat moss before filling in the hole. Make sure you wet the peat moss thoroughly, then just pack it on the butt ends of the cuttings.

Over the winter the cuttings will develop callous and possibly some roots. Placing them in the hole upside down puts the butt ends closest to the surface, so they can be warmed by the sun, creating favorable conditions for root development. Being upside down also discourages top growth. Leave them alone until about mid spring after the danger of frost has passed. Over the winter the buds will begin to develop and will be quite tender when you dig them up. Frost could do considerable damage if you dig them and plant them out too early. That’s why it is best to leave them buried until the danger of frost has passed.

Dig them up very carefully, so as not to damage them. Cut open the bundles and examine the butt ends. Hopefully, you will see some callous build up. Even if there is no callous, plant them out anyway. You don’t need a bed of sand or anything special when you plant the cuttings out. Just put them in a sunny location in your garden. Of course the area you chose should be well drained, with good rich topsoil.

To plant the cuttings, just dig a very narrow trench, or using a spade, make a slice by prying open the ground. Place the cuttings in the trench with the butt ends down. Bury about one half of the cutting leaving a few buds above ground. Back fill around the cuttings with loose soil making sure there are no air pockets. Tamp them in lightly, then water thoroughly to eliminate any air pockets.

Water them on a regular basis, but don’t make the soil so wet that they rot. Within a few weeks the cuttings will start to leaf out. Some will more than likely collapse because there are not enough roots to support the plant. The others will develop roots as they leaf out. By fall, the cuttings that survived should be pretty well rooted. You can transplant them once they are dormant, or you can wait until spring. If you wait until spring, make sure you transplant them before they break dormancy.

There really is no exact science when it comes to rooting cuttings, so now I am going to present you with a variation of the above method.

This method still applies to hardwood cuttings of deciduous plants.  With this variation you do everything exactly the same as you do with the method you just learned, up to the point where you bury them for the winter.

With method number two you don’t bury them at all. Instead, you plant the cuttings out as soon as you make them in the late fall, or anytime during the winter when the ground is not frozen. In other words, you just completely skip the step where you bury the cuttings underground for the winter. Plant them exactly the same way as described for method number one. As with all cuttings, treating them with a rooting compound prior to planting will help induce root growth.

Hardwood cuttings work fairly well for most of the deciduous shrubs. However, they are not likely to work for some of the more refined varieties of deciduous ornamentals like Weeping Cherries or other ornamental trees.  Rooting cuttings of ornamental trees is possible, but only using softwood cutting techniques.

Now let’s discuss rooting cuttings of evergreens, using hardwood techniques.

Hardwood cuttings of evergreens are usually done after you have experienced two heavy frosts in the late fall, around mid November or so. However, I have obtained good results with some plants doing them as early as mid September, taking advantage of the warmth of the fall sun. When doing them is early, they need to be watered everyday.

Try some cuttings early and if they do poorly, just do some more in November. Hardwood cuttings of many evergreens can be done at home in a simple frame filled with coarse sand. To make such a frame, just make a square or rectangular frame using 2” by 6” boards. Nail the four corners together as if to make a large picture frame. This frame should sit on top of the ground in an area that is well drained. An area of partial shade is preferred.

Once you have the frame constructed remove any weeds or grass inside the frame so this vegetation does not grow up through your propagation bed. Fill this frame with a very coarse grade of sand.  The sand used in swimming pool filters usually works.  Mason’s sand is a little too fine.  If you have a sand and gravel yard in your area visit the site and inspect the sand piles.  Find a grade that is a little more coarse than masons sand.  But keep in mind that most any sand will work, so just pick one that you think is coarse enough.  If water runs through it easily, it’s coarse enough.

Make sure you place your frame in area where the water can drain through the sand, and out of the frame.  In other words, don’t select a soggy area for your cutting bed.  Standing water is sure to seriously hamper your results.

Making the evergreen cuttings is easy. Just clip a cutting 4-5 inches in length from the parent plant. Make tip cuttings only. (Only one cutting from each branch.) Strip the needles or leaves from the bottom one half to two thirds of the cutting. Wounding evergreen cuttings isn’t usually necessary because removing the leaves or needles causes enough injury for callous build up and root development.

Dip the butt ends of the cuttings in a powder or liquid rooting compound and stick them in the sand about 3/4” to 1” apart. Keep them watered throughout the fall until cool temperatures set in. If you have some warm dry days over the winter, make sure you water your cuttings.  Keep in mind that sand in a raised bed will dry out very quickly.  Don’t worry about snow.  Snow covering your cuttings is just fine, it will actually keep them moist, and protect them from harsh winter winds.

Start watering again in the spring and throughout the summer. They don’t need a lot of water, but be careful not to let them dry out, and at the same time making sure they are not soaking wet.

This method of rooting cuttings of evergreens actually works very well, but it does take some time. You should leave them in the frame for a period of twelve months. You can leave them longer if you like. Leaving them until the following spring would be just fine. They should develop more roots over the winter.

Rooting cuttings of the following plants is very easy using this method.  variegated Euonymus varieties, Taxus, Juniper, Arborvitae, Japanese Holly, Boxwood, and English Holly. Rhododendrons and Azaleas prefer to have their bottoms warmed before they root.

Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, http://www.freeplants.com and sign up for his
excellent gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
E-book, “Easy Plant Propagation”.

How to build an intermittent mist system

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How to build an intermittent mist system

That is one of the top search phrases that I get traffic from. Why? Because most people who are looking for information on how to propagate plants are doing it for 3 reasons:

They want to duplicate a few plants in their yard to spread around their landscape or give to friends
They are looking for a way to reproduce large quantities of plants to sell.
They don’t have a lot of money to spend on a misting system.

In all 3 cases, most are trying to do it as economically as possible and this usually means a DIY intermittent misting system. There is nothing wrong with DIY misting systems at all. It is the lack of knowledge and frustration that usually accompanies them that I have concerns about.

Lack of knowledge about plant propagation and misting systems:

There is a lot of information out there about plant propagation and very little about misting systems. One mistake many people make when gathering this information is that what works for one person will not always work for another. If a New England grower tries to duplicate a propagation technique that works extremely well for a grower from Arkansas, they will probably fail. Oh, they may have a little success, but for the most part, southern growing conditions differ greatly from northern ones.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in passing along information about plant propagation, but the recipient may not have the experience to realize that the propagation method utilized may have to be modified for their particular growing conditions.

On top of the differing propagation methods, the eager new propagator will undoubtedly learn about intermittent mist and spend countless hours searching for information about it. It is just not out there! There are a few websites that will give basic and vague descriptions and material lists, but none of them will actually tell you how to use it! And this leads to:

Frustration!

I myself looked far and wide for information on misting systems to propagate plants, and I too got frustrated. I copied and pasted everything I could, forming a small book of propagation methods, materials lists, assembly drawings, you name it. The one thing I never found was how to actually use the darn thing! I mean, I found basic settings like “6 seconds of mist every 5 minutes”, or “1 minute of mist every 5 minutes”. I mean comon, which is it, and for exactly which plants, and at what time of year? When do I start to mist every day? When do I turn the thing off? Do different plants require different settings (YES, by the way)? All the information I found made me more frustrated than you can imagine.

On top of the frustration with finding information about the correct settings to use when misting cuttings, where and exactly what components are needed to build an intermittent misting system? Again, very vague, cryptic answers.

Well, I am proud to announce a brand new website where you can learn all you need about misting systems. Visit the Misting System E-learning website to learn the secrets to building a misting systems that will be dependable and cost effective.

Want to learn why you should be using intermittent mist? Grab the free report Why You Should Be Using Intermittent Mist right now!

Easy Fall Propagation Techniques

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As a home gardener, fall should be a very special time for you. Fall is the best season of the year for plant propagation, especially for home gardeners who do not have the luxury of intermittent mist. The technique that I am going to describe here can be equally effective for evergreens as well as many deciduous plants.

The old rule of thumb was to start doing hardwood cuttings of evergreens after you have experienced at at least two hard freezes. After two hard freezes the plants are completely dormant. However, based on my experience it is beneficial to start doing your evergreen cuttings earlier than that. So instead of doing “by the book” hardwood cuttings you’re actually working with semi-hardwood cuttings. The down side to starting your cuttings early is that they will have to be watered daily unless you experience rain showers. The up side is that they will start rooting sooner, and therefore are better rooted when you pull them out to transplant them.

To prepare an area in which to root cuttings you must first select a site. An area that is about 50% shaded will work great. Full sun will work, it just requires that you tend to the cuttings more often. Clear all grass or other vegetation from the area that you have selected. The size of the area is up to you. Realistically, you can fit about one cutting per square inch of bed area. You might need a little more area per cutting, it depends on how close you stick the cuttings in the sand.

Once you have an area cleared off all you have to do is build a wooden frame and lay it on the ground in the area that you cleared. Your frame is a simple as four 2 by 4’s or four 2 by 6’s nailed together at each corner. It will be open on the top and open on the bottom. Just lay it on the ground in the cleared area, and fill it with a coarse grade of sand.

This sand should be clean (no mud or weed seed), and much coarser than the sand used in play box. Visit your local builders supply center and view each sand pile they have. They should have different grades varying from very fine to very coarse. You don’t want either. You want something a little more coarse than their medium grade. But then again it’s not rocket science, so don’t get all worked up trying to find just the right grade. Actually, bagged swimming pool filter sand also works and should be available at discount home centers.

Once your wooden frame is on the ground and filled with sand, you’re ready to start sticking cuttings. Wet the sand the day before you start, that will make it possible for you to make a slit in the sand that won’t fill right in. In this propagation box you can do all kinds of cuttings, but I would start with the evergreens first. Taxus, Junipers, and Arborvitae.

Make the cuttings about 4” long and remove the needles from the bottom two thirds of the cuttings. Dip them in a rooting compound and stick them in the sand about an inch or so.  Most garden centers sell rooting compounds.  Just tell them that you are rooting hardwood cuttings of evergreens.

When you make the Arborvitae cuttings you can actually remove large branches from an Arborvitae and just tear them apart and get hundreds of cuttings from one branch. When you tear them apart that leaves a small heel on the bottom of the cutting. Leave this heel on. It represents a wounded area, and the cutting will produce more roots because of this wound.

Once the weather gets colder and you have experienced at least one good hard freeze, the deciduous plants should be dormant and will have dropped their leaves, and you can now propagate them. Just make cuttings about 4” long, dip them in a rooting compound and stick them in the bed of sand. Not everything will root this way, but a lot of things will, and it takes little effort to find out what will work and what won’t.

This is a short list of just some of the things that root fine this way. Taxus, Juniper, Arborvitae, Japanese Holly, Blue Boy/Girl Holly, Boxwood, Cypress, Forsythia, Rose of Sharon, Sandcherry, Weigela, Red Twig Dogwood, Variegated Euonymus, Cotoneaster, Privet, and Viburnum.

Immediately after sticking the cuttings thoroughly soak the sand to make sure there are no air pockets around the cuttings. Keep the cuttings watered once or twice daily as long as the weather is warm. Once winter sets it you can stop watering, but if you get a warm dry spell, water during that time.

Start watering again in the spring and throughout out the summer. The cuttings should be rooted by late spring and you can cut back on the water, but don’t let them dry out to the point that they burn up.

By fall you can transplant them to a bed and grow them on for a year or two, or you can plant them in their permanent location. This technique takes 12 months, but it is simple and easy.

Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, http://www.freeplants.com and sign up for his
excellent gardening newsletter, and grab a FREE copy of his
E-book, “Easy Plant Propagation”

Why Use Intermittent mist?

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When it comes to your woody ornamentals and perennials, you always want the best method to keep your plants healthy. Using intermittent mist to root your cuttings is one of the most efficient means of asexually reproducing your plants in large quantities. Intermittent mist allows you to supply moisture automatically during critical periods of propagation, by way of timers that control when to release the mist onto your plants at a precise interval. Without the use of intermittent mist, cuttings would need to be kept in a humidity and temperature controlled environment in order to keep them from wilting and dying from overheating and transpiration.

Transpiration happens when the moisture from plants leaves, flowers, stems, and roots evaporates. Using intermittent mist helps raise the humidity levels around your cuttings, which will lessen the transpiration process, allowing the cuttings to form a root and callus, and reduces the temperature around your cuttings. All of which can be accomplished without the need for an expensive greenhouse that requires temperature and humidity controls. Under more ideal conditions, certain softwood cuttings will root under intermittent mist in as little as 2 to 3 weeks, allowing you to root multiple batches of cuttings in a single season.

There are lots of variations of misting facilities, providing a perfect fit for whatever needs you have. Larger scale propagators may be found using large misting houses with elaborate lighting and plumbing, while a more smaller family owned nursery may use simple hoophouses or root the cuttings in sand beds outdoors, using more simple misting systems and natural lighting. Proper location for outdoors misting areas are extremely importing. Too much wind or sun can be hazardous to your cuttings. The proper rooting media is also very critical when rooting cuttings under intermittent mist. Sand has been a widely used, a greatly successful and inexpensive element for many years, however a mixture of peat moss with an equal amount of perlite , vermiculite, or sand can be an even better rooting medium. This mixture will be more porous than sand alone, and is well aerated and better drained than sand.

Duration and interval of mist are also very critical elements to the ability of the cuttings to survive and be successful at rooting. Too little or too much time between mists can result in the cuttings drying out, wilting and dying. Too little mist can also result in the cuttings overheating, which can also result in your cuttings dying. Too much mist, or too little time between your mists, will result in a constantly wet cutting and constantly wet rooting medium. Another key aspect to remember when choosing intermittent mist, is temperature. It’s often overlooked while rooting cuttings, and should be kept between 50°F and 69°F. Once your cuttings have developed roots, the frequency of your intermittent mist should be gradually reduced, to begin hardening off the cuttings and to get them accustomed to a more normal growing condition. Over a period of a month or so, you should reduce the amount of watering to once a day. Your cuttings will now be ready to be transplanted into pots, grow beds, or planted into landscape, and should be established enough to be watered only during long dry spells.

Dwayne Haskell is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, plantpropagationmistingsystem.com.

When should you winterize your plant propagation misting system?

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When should I winterize my misting system?

Excellent question.

As fall arrives and winter is right around the corner, you need to begin to think of exactly when to take apart and winterize your plant propagation misting system. Turning it off to prematurely may damage your cuttings, too late and your misting system itself may be damaged. Read the article on winterizing your misting system using an air compressor, and this one on winterizing your misting system using gravity, both at the Mistkits.com blog,  for a few things to consider before you begin to winterize your misting system.

Now that you have an understanding as to how the winterizing process is done, you need to figure out precisely WHEN to do it. That is not as hard as you may believe.

The one thing you need to know before dismantling your misting system is the distinction between a frost and a freeze. Kathy Purdy at Cold Climate Gardening has previously written a great post on the differences, so I wont get into all the particulars, but to excerpt her article:

Both [the frost advisory and the freeze warning] are only issued during the growing season. A Frost Advisory is issued when the predicted temperature is expected to fall to 36 degrees or lower in the next 3 to 30 hours during the growing season. So temperatures 35 to 40 range would also dictate a frost advisory. A Freeze Warning is issued when there is an 80% or greater chance that the temperatures are expected to fall to 32 degrees (F) or lower in the next 3 to 30 hours during the growing season. If the temperature is expected to fall below 28 degrees (F) this is considered a Hard Freeze.

Learn more at: Cold Climate Gardening

So essentially what we need to worry about when deciding when to disassemble the misting system is when the temperature will fall below 32° F (0° C). If the temperature is predicted to fall below 32° the water within the piping, solenoids, and misting nozzles will freeze. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion is where we run into trouble. A misting system that freezes has the potential of having the piping, solenoids and mist nozzles breaking because of this expansion. Depending on exactly where the freeze occurred, you have the potential of water constantly running onto the ground or your cuttings because of a water main break, your cuttings getting no water when they should, or the cuttings getting too much water if the misting nozzles are damaged.

To minimize the likelihood that you will have frozen and damaged misting components you need to be sure you drain the system before the first freeze.

As I write this, Maine is experiencing very cold temperatures. This is very unusual for October. Just two days ago I made the determination to drain my misting system for the winter. I did this based on the weather forecast that the evening temperatures would get below 32° for a few nights. This time of year, the cuttings I took a month or so ago are essentially semi-hardwood anyway and misting them is almost a waste of time. If I keep them watered, they should eventually root. Even if they do not root, the crop is worth much less than my misting equipment.

One thing to keep in mind when making the decision to drain and winterize your misting system for the winter is the impact of frozen and broken equipment. It is much easier to start a new crop of softwood cuttings in the spring than it is to fix misting equipment. Just keep the cuttings watered until the ground freezes and they should be fine.

Dwayne Haskell is the author of this article. Visit his most
interesting website, http://mistkits.com and sign up for the newsletter. As well as the newsletter, be sure to grab a copy of this free report “10 Reasons You Should Be Using Intermittent Mist.”