After the Freeze

Planting a vegetable garden is a risky venture. Experience helps, but luck always plays a role. A winter garden is especially tricky. Sub-freezing temperatures can be fatal. A two-day cold snap this past week had me holding my breath.

When it comes to winter weather in Athens, anything is possible. My first year here, the temperature stayed below zero for several days. That’s rare. More often, the temperature will fall below freezing for maybe an hour or two early in the morning.

Even before the freeze, the lettuce was iffy. I suspect the transplants had been in pots too long when I bought them. Except for some butter-crunch in pots, none of the lettuce survived the cold snap. Most of it had arleady bolted.

Butter crunch lettuce

The English peas were my greatest concern. Like peaches and tomatoes, homegrown peas are delicious and nothing like what you see in stores. I was happy to see they’d survived. Wind knocked them to the ground which may have saved them from cold damage.


Brussels sprouts and broccoli did great this fall, growing quite a bit larger than anticipated. They stopped growing about a month ago and look like hell, but they’re still alive. They were planted in late September and need more than three months to reach maturity.

I sprinkled the last of some turnip seed in one of the few available spots. They were slow to come up and haven’t grown much, but look better after the freeze than before. Same with some leftover beet seed. Neither is likely to be ready before March.


Spinach has really surprised me. It’s easy enough to grow, but hard to harvest. Timing is everything. Heat quickly renders it inedible. I had more success in Kentucky than I’ve had here — until this year. I’ll be adding a few leaves to salads and other dishes for months.


During the cold spell, I’d resigned myself to an epic fail. The temperature dropped into the low 20s and stayed below freezing for more than 24 hours. I’m amazed to see so little damage.

We’re not out of the woods yet. The lowest temperatures hit in late January and February. Having survived this big freeze, I’m encouraged about my chances with the next. As always, I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for stopping by.