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December 2007
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Melting snow without harming plants

Q: Is there something out there that will melt snow that won’t harm my plants or my dog? I know there are “pet safe” stuff out there, but I don’t know what it is in it! Which means to me, not good. I’d like a non-chemical method to use. We do shovel, but since our lot is so shaded by the big trees it doesn’t melt fast and we are also burdened with city laws requiring us to “clean up” which is understandable, but I don’t want to do it at the risk of my precious plants and animals dying! If you have any ideas I’d love to hear it.

Ans: Pure sand can help to give traction in ice. About the safest there is is calcium chloride which is quite safe around plants. In fact, they make a liquid spray for improving tomatoes that start out with blossom end rot. Calcium chloride is also used in home made pickling and comes in small boxes called ‘Pickle Crisp’. It does have a chloride base, but that usually dissapates quite well, leaving calcium a natural soil nutrient. I would also apply a little calcium chloride to my tomato plant area, which helps them get more calcium. The other option is a bit more costly, as it involves heater tapes and power controls to control temperature.

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