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Baby, it’s cold outside…and I’m not talking about the kind of happy snowflake cold you think about when you listen to that classic song. I’m talking about chill you to the bone, bust your water pipes cold! This past week really slapped all of us thin-blooded southerners in the face with nighttime temperatures averaging in the high teens. We tend to expect cold nights like this here and there, but when we have several frigid days in a row, it wears on us outdoor laborers in the south. And while we are busy trying to figure out how many layers to put on in the morning, our vegetable gardens are really taking a beating.
Frost Tolerance of Winter Vegetable
The vast majority of our winter vegetables took a turn for the worse this week, and by that I mean, don’t worry about wheeling out the crash cart…they’re toast. We did have row cover over some of the more tender crops, like Swiss chard and lettuce and a small portion of these are still viable; however, it is tough to invest heavily in cold protection, like row covers and support hoops when they aren’t needed every year or for only a couple weeks a year. So most folks in the south just cross their fingers if they still have plantings this time of year.
There are many varieties of winter vegetables that are very cold hardy and can withstand temperatures down to 25 degrees or lower, but when you have five or six consecutive nights of sub-20 temperatures, even the hardiest of plants will wither and die. If you are wondering what a plant looks like when it has been punished by the cold, here are a couple of pictures of some very sad looking veggies.
The Bright Side
The weather looks to be normalizing next week, so hopefully the worst of the cold snap is behind us. And hey, it’s a new year full of new possibilities. It’s time to start thinking about what you want to plant this spring and begin ordering your seeds.
If you have some protected seed starting space and want to get a jump on planting, you can begin seeding things like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
As a side note, if you have any animals that stay outside, remember to check their water bowls or troughs in the mornings. They tend to freeze up this time of year and it only takes a minute or two to thaw them out with a little hot water.
That’s all for this month, stay warm and please try and see those new year’s resolutions through for at least another few weeks folks!