Sunday, January 26, 2014

When the Garden Gets Slammed By a Very Hard Freeze

I have a friend who says that gamblers should skip going to Vegas and just plant a garden, instead --  letting those weather dice roll and taking odds on what will yield well, what will do poorly, and what will be a total fail.

In the past bunch of winters, broccoli, cabbages, and nearly all the cool-season greens have produced right through until spring. Gardeners in North Georgia are accustomed to the success of those crops, so, back in October, we all would have said the likelihood of those crops surviving the winter was fairly high. This year, the usual winter crops pretty much ended a few weeks ago when the temperature dropped down near 5 degrees F.

It seemed like it might be useful to have a list of the hardiest crops, for future reference when planning the fall/winter garden, so what follows is such a list:
multiplying onions
shallots
garlic
carrots
winter radishes
green onions
cilantro
spinach
Brussels Sprouts (report from another local gardener)
I'm guessing that parsnips would be ok, too, but I didn't plant any this year.

The perennial herbs also seem to be struggling with the cold. Most years in winter I can find enough fresh oregano down under the browned stems to use for cooking, but today I could find only a few, tiny leaves. The sage has some good leaves, and I found some usable thyme under the tangle of old stems of that plant, but the rosemary looks pretty rough.

Also, since so many of the weeds that I depend upon for bunny food were bitten back by the hard freeze, I've been growing wheat greens indoors to feed to my pet bunnies. Without these greens, my bunny-food bill would be much higher!

We've been growing sprouts in the kitchen for ourselves, too, to add some fresh, home-grown greens to our meals. With the loss of many of the outdoor crops, we are lucky to have options for continued "gardening" indoors.

If other gardeners can let me know of additional crops that have done well in the cold, we can add them to the list, to help in planning next winter's garden. Hope you all are keeping warm!

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