When the weather begins to dip below freezing, and gardeners notice frost on plants, it's time to look into ways to protect plants from freeze.
Some tender plants that cannot tolerate the harsh cool temperatures will require extra care. Some of these plants include: geraniums, tomatoes, begonias, impatiens and peppers. If bringing plants indoors is not an option, then plants can be covered using row covers or burlap. Row covers, for one, are lightweight and easy to manage. They are made from a fabric that is draped over plants for insulation and also to warm-up the ground. It is suggested to cover cold sensitive plants when night time lows are expected to dip below 20 degrees F. Cover vegetable crops when temperatures are predicted to fall below the mid 20s.
Gardening in fall and winter will require different landscape management planning than in warmer months. During fall and winter, gardeners will need to water plants once every 2-4 weeks instead of daily. These plants will require water when their roots become dry. Gardeners will need to prune back leaves to protect plants from pest/plant diseases, too. And, deer management strategies will need to be implemented, including the use of a deer fence or deer repellents, to protect cool weather crops from deer browsing and damage.
If winter gardening is of interest, there are plenty of edible plants that can grow in the winter and tolerate harsh temperatures including:
- calendula (pot marigold)
- Swiss chard
Fall and winter gardening is all about frost protection and keeping plants well insulated against freezing temperatures.