Cold Snap Survivors

In late-December, the temperature here in Athens dropped to eight degrees (F) and stayed below freezing for several days. I figured the vegetables in my little garden were doomed, but took precautions anyway. After mulching with a thick layer of straw and covering everything with floating row cover, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

A few days after the hard freeze, I removed the row cover but left the straw. Several plants were obvious goners, but the rest looked like they could go either way. A week or so later, the results were clear. The closer the row cover was to the straw, the more likely the plants under it were to survive.

To keep the row cover from weighing down taller plants, I’d scattered empty pots around. That worked well enough, but probably wasn’t necessary. Draping the row cover over a bird bath was a mistake. Live and learn.

I’ve eaten collards several times. Broccoli is heading up and will be ready to harvest in a few weeks. The Brussels sprouts are gorgeous but haven’t started producing heads. Cabbage and spinach look healthy but haven’t grown much.

Most of the lettuce is gone. The cold was less a factor than smothering beneath too much mulch. Waiting until Groundhog’s Day to pull back the straw didn’t help. If the roots didn’t rot too, some will sprout new leaves. Time will tell.

Groundhog’s Day also marks the opening of seed-starting season. I plan to grow more than twenty varieties of flowers and vegetables from seed. The challenge will be finding space for all the seedlings before they can be planted outside. My little cold frame only holds so much.

I’ll figure it out. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Getting Tootsie to cooperate will be the hard part. As always, I’ll keep you posted.