Row by Row Episode 229: Cold-Tolerant Plants
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Row by Row Episode 229: Cold-Tolerant Plants

Row by Row Episode 229: Cold-Tolerant Plants

It's getting cooler, even where we are in Zone 8b in SW Georgia. We're getting ready for Christmas and still harvesting from the garden. Tonight, we're discussing some of our favorite cold-tolerant plants to grow in the garden. There are those that are cold-tolerant but can't survive a hard frost, there are those that can do both. Let's discuss and grow together!

Things To Keep In Mind When Growing Cold-Tolerant Plants

  • Know the Average Frost Date for your zone (USDA site) light frost 34-32, hard frost below 32 (water in those cells turns to ice, which expands and bursts the cell walls of the plant, plants look sad and wilted)
  • Variables that can affect: Wind, Humidity, size of the plant, soil moisture, mulching, row covers
  • Soil Moisture: water has high specific heat and takes more energy to freeze water, dry soil is the enemy.
  • Size of Plant: more mature plants and those that harden off do better.
  • Mulching can protect the plants as well row covers can make them colder tolerant and protect them from freeze damage.
  • Some will become sweeter and more delicious when they go through a frost.

Plants That Will Not Survive A Frost

Basil, beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, okra, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and tomatillos.

Most Cold-Tolerant Plants: Hard Frost

While we know that there are many plants that we can't grow in the colder months (list above) due to the risk of frost but there are quite a few vegetables that you can grow and will survive cold weather! Check out the list below!

  • Carrots - roots are more tolerant than tops. Carrot roots can take down to 0 degrees, while the tops can take down to 18 degrees. You'll want to mulch for more protection. Fun fact: the cooler temps make the roots sweeter.
  • Garlic - they actually really need cold temperatures and can take down to 0 degrees.
  • Beets/Chard - these vegetables can take down to 15 degrees
  • Brussels Sprouts - can handle temps down to 0 degrees, these also need cold temperatures
  • Collards - this truly depends on the variety, some varieties can tolerate down to 0 degrees
  • Spinach - spinach can take temperatures down to 20 degrees.
  • Leeks, Chives & Parsnips - these two varieties can also take temps down to 0 degrees
  • Onions - short-day onions can take temperatures down to 20 degrees, except for Walla-Walla or green onions, which can take much colder temps
  • Kale - most, if not all, Kale varieties can take temps down to 10 degrees
  • Kohlrabi - kohlrabi can take down to 15 degrees

Moderate Cold/Frost Tolerant

Broccoli & Cauliflower will do ok with moderate cold temps but the heads can get spongy at times. If the heads are present. you will need to cover or harvest. Cabbage can take up to lows of 25 degrees, the heads have been known to bust if it freezes. The following varieties are great in moderately cold temperatures, cilantro, mustard, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, fava beans, and some lettuces that are bread for cold tolerance.

Cover Crops

Our most cold-tolerant cover crop is Winter Rye, this variety can tolerate temperatures bottoming out at -30 degrees!! Frosty Berseem Clover is another variety that can survive pretty harsh temps of -20 degrees in the winter months. Hairy Vetch can typically handle down to -15 degrees, Australian Winter peas down to -10 degrees, Crimson Clover down to 0 degrees, and Daikon Radish down to 10 degrees.

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