Garden Damage

Have you ever wondered how low the temps have to go before winter veggies are damaged?  I had never thought much about it because in southwest Louisiana, it never got too cold and in Kentucky and Missouri, it was too cold to have a winter garden.  As hot as it gets here, I just never thought much about damaging cold before January or even February but . . I had to dig my head out of the sand and face reality last week.

Our low weekend before this past one was 16º one night and 19º the next night.  I expected to lose all the lettuce and mustard greens but though the beets and broccoli would be fine.  I was wrong!  One of the problems is that we had not had low temps so there had been no conditioning cold.  It went from fairly warm to darned cold.

Freeze Damaged Broccoli

More than half the broccoli is gone.  Had I simply put 5 gallon plastic buckets over the plants, I could probably have saved them.  The kale, which was supposed to be ok, was damaged.  I lost about half of it.  The carrots loved the cold.  The lettuce is fine.  The mustard greens and chard have some freeze damage on the leaves but they’ll be fine.  The beets suffered quite a bit of damage to the greens but I believe the beets themselves will be ok.

From what I’ve heard, having those low temps in December is unusual but pretty common in January and February.  I’m sorry to have lost so much of the broccoli but am very happy to still have so many plants that are doing ok.


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    Helen Keonig1 says

    FWIW – re the broccoli, etc. – it can come back. Broccoli and other members of the cole family are TOUGH! although 16 IS pretty darned chilly! If the plant leaves don’t turn black in sunlight, chances are that while the plant may have been frost hit – it will still keep growing. The leaves eventually will stand up again – but the day IS coming when…. Mustard is probably fine, and cabbage may be (unless it rained right before – in which case the freezing will cause the cells to burst! But honestly …… Beets, chard – I personally wouldn’t trust re below freezing temperatures – for one thing – the leaves are too “fleshy” – because they have so much water in them. As a result – carrots will be fine (in fact, carrots that overwinter in the north become sweeter!!!!), lettuce – ummmm – CAN be fine – although mine invriably gets wiped out! Chinese cabbage – even when the outer leaves turn brown – the heart will keep growing and survive often until spring. I am surprised about the kale, however – it usually requires a good frost somewhere along the line – but 16 is more than a frost!

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    Bonnie Litts says

    You’ve had colder temps already than I’ve had up here in MI. Sorry you lost so much produce.