If I Plant in Winter, Won't My Crops Freeze?
Your October Garden
Cool weather crops consist of broccoli, cauliflower, collards, lettuce, mustards, turnips, rape, kale, cabbage, bok choy, rutabaga, and many other greens.
Your winter garden likes cool weather, but is it too late to plant? No, it is not too late to plant, because all the crops listed above are frost resistant. There is a BIG difference between a frost and a freeze.
A freeze is when the air temperatures drop below freezing. The freezing temperature of water is thirty two degrees Fahrenheit. Since plants are mostly water, for general purposes, we will say anything lower than thirty two degrees is a freeze for your garden.
However, several factors still come into play. For example, how long will the temperatures stay under thirty three degrees? What is the ground temperature?
Generally, the air temperature needs to stay at freezing or below for a week to bring down the ground temperatures, down to deadly garden territory. If you have a few nights that will reach the teens, but rise up to the seventies or eighties during the day, you don't have much to worry about. Just lightly cover your crops with straw. You can also use a bucket to cover, but you must get up early and take the bucket off, as temperatures in South Carolina can rise quickly.
Columbia, SC usually has very mild freezes, and usually not until February. While a freeze can cause big problems up North, here in South Carolina- at least in the middle to lower state, we can continue to grow.
Frost is different. Frost can happen without a freeze, and actually, our winter crops benefit from a light frost. Most of your winter crops are not suitable to eat until after a light frost. This is because the frost causes starches to turn to sugar in the plants.
Have you ever left a mustard or collard out in the garden past early spring? If so you have discovered that they “seed out”. The frost signifies the opposite. Frost means don't make baby collards. When the hot summer sun hits your plants, it causes them to go into reproduction mode. The plant thinks it's time to make babies. Cool weather causes the plants to conserve their energy, making a tastier plant for you to consume.
If you don't like the weather in South Carolina, wait an hour or two. Our up and down temperatures allow us to grow our cool weather crops from September (as long as it's cool) until February, and even sometimes into early March. When you watch the weather report, listen for key words like hard freeze, freeze, light frost, hard frost. It won't take any time before you are listening to the weather like a seasoned farmer. As always, Get Growing South Carolina.
Our Local, non GMO Garden Box is a great way to get rare seeds delivered right to your doorstep. There is something new each month, along with planting directions and fun local gardening gifts. Great for the urban grower. Click here to order your box today.
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Hi Yield All purpose Fertilizer is great for ROOT CROPS. Come by Sal's or click link below to order.
This fertilizer is great for onions, beets, radishes, carrots, and more. And a little goes a long way. People who are successful gardeners feed their crops. Most crops need to be fed every three weeks for best results.
Do you want to know what to feed your leafy greens? Read our blog post here.
My favorite soil to use is the Sungro Fafard 3B Mix. You can purchase this at Sal's. Find out more about this mix by clicking the picture.