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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Should I Put a Sheet on my Veggies This Winter?

Q. I have vegetable garden. Do I have to cover with a sheet if it freezes?
A. It depends on the vegetables and the site. Vegetable gardens located in warm areas of the yard with reflected heat and very little wind are much warmer. They may not need to be covered or covered less often than those that are exposed. Vegetables growing in these locations are not as likely to freeze during the winter.
Freeze damage to tomato plant
Freeze damage to tomato fruit
     Of course any of the warm season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, etc. are going to freeze as soon as temperatures drop below freezing. In fact, they can suffer some damage when temperatures drop to the temperature of your refrigerator.
            Some warm season vegetables like beans may freeze to the ground at the hint of a freeze while others like peas, spinach and radishes may sail through the winter with no problems. Sorry that I can't give you a definite answer on that because there are so many variables.
Bush bean collar rot due to cold soils
            To be on the safe side get yourself a 1 ounce or more frost blanket and cover your growing area when temperatures are predicted to drop below freezing. Depending on the frost blanket, it can allow 50% or more of the light to reach the vegetables and it also breathes while it can raise the temperature under the blanket five or 6° F. It also keeps the wind off of the vegetables.
Crop cover (frost blanket) on raised bed for improved germination during cold weather
            Follow the direction and tack it down tightly so the wind doesn't get under it. Or put some weighted objects along the perimeter of the blanket. Don't use burlap or plastic sheeting. Spend the money, buy the 1 ounce or heavier frost blankets and they will last for three or four seasons or more.

De Witt makes a good one. So does Agfabric.

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