What survives a killing frost?

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 - 3:31pm

Alas, my tomatoes and lettuce are no more. The jalapenos are withered, the zinnias dead.

A killing frost is rather hard on your garden, but some plants just keep on truckin', despite temps that dip a bit below the frost line. Here are some of my late fall/early winter favorites

Snow peas. I love this variety since not only are the peas edible, so are the pods - and the leaves. Other kinds are great for canning. Just make sure you get them in the ground as soon as things cool off in the fall. Hint: peas love twine for trellising.

snow peas

Cruciferous vegetables: Cabbage, broccoili, kale, brussel sprouts, collard greens...it's a long list. Right now I have megaton cabbage and larks tongue kale out there. Frost? They laugh at it. Bring it on!

Cabbage has more viatmin C than oranges

Parsnips: Despite their strong taste, give this relative of the carrot a try. Parsnips NEED cold weather. Here in the Carolinas you sow them in November and harvest them in February.

8 Comments

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Love it, safewrite! Great reminder.

Leeks also love staying in the ground past frost -- certain varieties, at least.

Anyone else have frost-hardy veggies to suggest?  This is an important topic.  I don't have a lot of experience with post-frost gardening, but I aim to develop it over the coming years.

jasonw's picture
jasonw
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Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 757
Kale, Mache, Spinach

From my past life of gardening in Colorado - Kale, Mache and Spinach all can survive the death frost and even overwinter under row cover and a few inches of snow.  They can really start to take off again when spring rolls around and gives you a jump on the first batches of greens. 

A cold frame can also give you some nice winter protection but you have to be mindful of keeping it ventilated and not cook / sun fry your greens when the sun comes out.  Never fun to learn the hard way.

Happy growing to you all.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1459
leeks

Thanks for the tip, Amanda. Which varieties of leeks, please?

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1459
mache

I'd never heard of mache, Jason. Gonna try some this year. This stuff, right?  http://www.botanicalinterests.com/products/view/3046/Mache-Corn-Salad-Organic-HEIRLOOM-Seeds

Lnorris's picture
Lnorris
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Posts: 100
Blue Solaise

Blue Solaise is a variety of leek that will over winter in the garden.  

jasonw's picture
jasonw
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Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 757
That is the one!

We discovered mache while living in Switzerland and you could buy it in the clamshell packaging as basically a salad mix.  It was the most inexpensive "filler" for home made salad mix and then add some walnuts and grilled lamb.  Maybe some blue cheese crumbles, olive oil and balsalmic for dressing and perfecto! Awesome salad for dinner.  Maybe a couple of Burli rolls and some red wine.  Hmm - time to make dinner!

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1459
great article on Marche

Okay, here is a great article on growing La Mache (as they say in France), or cornsalad greens. I love the fact that they are easy to save seeds from: it looks rather like how I save seeds from my basil or cilantro (although some of that seed gets used as corriander for pickling.)

Hladini's picture
Hladini
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Joined: Dec 28 2011
Posts: 59
More Survivors

I live in north central florida and we get a killing frost several times during the winter.  Cilantro just keeps on trucking and is a powerhouse green.  All our lettuces have survived multiple times.  Carrots too.  All the kale: dino, curly, ragged jack are all fine, brussels sprouts, fine.  The celery has survived multiple killing frosts and the long florida hot summer but it's planted in a little micro climate under some tall pine trees.  We just harvest cuttings from the celery.

Last year we planted our spring crop in early March and kept our seedlings from certain death by covering them in styrofoam cups.  It worked and we save the cups for future use.  Hay or straw is very effective in saving plants from killing frosts.  Saved about 50 big, sprawling watermelon plants last year by blanketing them in straw for the night.

Right now we have a cold frame full of spring starts and on freezing nights - like tonight - I blanket the seedlings with straw, then close the lid. 

Happy gardening everyone!

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