Weed Barrier Art Journal Background

When the temperature drops in the winter, “cold” is a relative term. In the Sonoran desert, if it drops to freezing, our vegetation starts to die. Some succulents suffer below 40 degrees F, but when it gets below freezing, things get serious. Tonight will dip into the low- to mid-20s, and if that happens, I will lose most of the cactus, succulents, natal plums, Red Honeysuckle, desert bird of paradise, blue agave and aloes. The citrus trees and fig may survive. Last time it was 29 degrees, I lost chunks of cactus and shrubs.

weedblockIn search of freeze cloth, I went to several places but no luck. Stores don’t stock a lot of it, so it sells out quickly when it gets cold. Since I couldn’t find any, I settled for weed barrier. It was a non-woven fiber, allows some sun to penetrate (great since I have to leave it up for the next four days), and I spent most of the afternoon wrapping cactus and shrubs.

After I was done, I brought the end of the 50-ft roll of weed barrier inside. I cut off a piece and took a look at it. Light cool-gray, light weight, hmmm. it would make a good background for a journal page. Glue will glop it up, so I decided to use fusible webbing to attach it to a free-standing journal page of 140-lb watercolor paper.

Tomorrow, I’m getting some black Misty-Fuse for decoration, but for tonight, I was happy with the result. I’ll also check to see what it takes to write on it. It’s pretty smooth, but it will need a brush or heavy pen to deal with the fibers.

Stay tuned for step two!

–Quinn McDonald has completed the first five chapters of the inner hero book. Three more to go!

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14 responses to “Weed Barrier Art Journal Background

  1. Sorry!!!! My email from a few minutes ago was supposed to go to a good friend who would sympathize. He has a conifer nursery in the foothills of the NC mountains and must battle with tender little plants, esp the 3-year-old grafts that are spending their first winter out of the greenhouse.

    Sandy

    PS I love what you did with the weed barrier!

  2. This came in from a blogger that I follow – she writes, makes art, etc. And she is always looking for alternative uses for “stuff”. I guess you have seen or heard about the cold weather in Arizona – I hope Quinn does not lose her landscaping! smw

    On Sun, Jan 13, 2013 at 3:36 AM, QuinnCreative

  3. May we please see some wrapped plants? I bet it looks wonderful. Maybe you’re another Christo and Jeanne-Claude in the making? Perhaps you could move on wrap a saguaro cactus eventually?

    • Hahaha! They don’t look wonderful. they look like dirty ghosts. But I can send you some photos. I’ve wrapped a Texas toothpick cactus, a totem pole cactus, a fencepost cactus and a pile of bunny ear cactus–but not a saguaro–they grow to 25 feet tall, that would be a LOT of wrapping!

  4. Another way to protect tender plants is with old umbrellas. Often folks discard them when one of the ribs no longer opens up smoothly or the handles won’t open completely. But plants don’t mind a non-symetrical cone to keep the frost off and the hemisphere sits right on the ground. Then the umbrellas collapse for quick, easy storage until the next frost. Robalee

    • What a great idea! Thanks for sharing. I do have to say, though, with a smile, that I haven’t seen an umbrella in use since I moved here three years ago. The joy of living in the desert!

  5. I don’t know much about desert living. I’ve lived most of my life in Oregon, save those few months here and there in North Dakota.
    It’s part of living here to protect plants and early spring gardens from frost and freezing weather. You made a good choice in using that weed barrier, it’s tough and should resist the cold.
    We usually use burlap. It can be stored and used again and again. And it’s another fabric/fiber that is fun to play with.
    In spring when we put out our seedlings you will often see PVC “hoops” covered with heavy plastic over the garden as a makeshift hot house. I’ve done this with my tomato cages and it works great. It doesn’t take much if it’s only a few days to keep the heat in. The the sun warms the area inside and the ground stays warm enough to sustain it until the next day when the sun does it’s work.
    I’ve even used those inexpensive umbrellas from the dollar store to keep my pots on the deck from freezing in spring time. I just break off the curve at the bottom of the handle and stick it in the dirt. Colorful too!
    I hope your plants make it through.

    • I remember some of those tactics from my years in Connecticut. The rules here are all different, and I don’t know all of them yet. Sometimes that’s fun. Sometimes it’s confusing. You can’t use plastic here because even the winter sun is too strong and you will parboil your plants. I hung colorful glass-ball Christmas decorations on the thorns of our Ocotillo, and in the 10 days there were outside they bleached to silver. In December. With four hours of sun. If you plan on re-using your plant covers, you wear heavy gloves when removing and folding them, because they will have cactus spines in them and you will be sorry if you don’t wear heavy leather gloves. Since I need to put it on with clamps or clothespins, which is hard to do with gloves on, I realize when I buy it that it may be a one-use only, which is why I leave it up for a few days. As I said, it’s such a different approach, that sometimes I have to guess.

      I love burlap. I love pulling threads out of it and replacing it with embroidery threads. Well, not for plant covers, but for placemats.

  6. I know women who use this “fabric” to test sew patterns for fitting. After alterations, it can be used as the pattern to cut the fabric for the garment. I understand it is somewhat transparent so you must use caution where you try on your test garment. ;) I hope it works well as an ice barrier.

    Lois K

    • That’s a really good use–to test patterns. It’s pretty sturdy (although I wouldn’t like to wriggle into a skinny dress made of it) and yes, you can see through it, although it is more translucent than transparent. It will never work as an ice barrier. We had wind, and the purpose of any freeze cloth is to reduce transpiration, which creates an effective lower surface temperature. Since the freezing air “floats” it often hits the tops of plants worse than the bottom. So the plants that face the pool have the best chance of surviving as the pool acts as a heat sink of sorts. I won’t know until the plant leaves die or the cactus browns how much damage there is. I thought I’d cheer myself up by playing with the weed barrier.

  7. I don’t know about an ice barrier, I’m using exactly the same product to protect my drought-hardy shrubs from the UV rays of our burning Aussie summer sun! It works, and I hope it does for you!
    I hadn’t got as far as thinking of a journal page; something new to try when the days are too hot to venture outside. Its no stranger than using anti static cloths, dryer cloth or baby wipes!.

    • It’s a weed barrier, and would do nothing for ice. Luckily, we don’t have that to worry about in the desert. I used it to keep the plants from losing more heat to transpiration as it was also windy. It may not work, but it gave me something to do that was better than nothing. And I thought playing with the leftover piece might be fun.

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