Cold, Colder, Coldest: Which Vegetables Overwinter in the Garden?

| 2/20/2014 10:01:00 AM

Tags: cold-hardy vegetables, winter, winter gardening, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Pam Dawling, Virginia,

Overwintered Vates kalePart One: 14 degrees Fahrenheit

Vates kale overwintered in our garden. I’ve long been interested in how cold-tolerant various vegetables are. We had two nights at 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10C) and several others in the teens in December. What survived? We have Tyee spinach under rowcover, and Vates kale. The senposai was still alive, but some of the midribs had brown streaks. Sadly we don’t have any leeks this winter, as we lacked enough workers to tend them in late summer. We had a nice bed of Deadon cabbage, and some small heads of Melissa savoy that missed the bulk harvest were also alive. The Gunma cabbage stumps had some leaves and tiny heads still alive, but the Tendersweet were history.

Our chard had all the leaves cut off in November, and seemed to be dead. Some winters it hangs on later, if we leave some foliage to help it regenerate.

The oats cover crop we sowed in August and early September were pretty much dead. All the broccoli looked dead. That’s as expected for the temperatures. Often we don’t get nights this cold till January – the cold came early this winter.

Our hardneck garlic tops looked to be in good shape. The Polish White softneck tops are considerably smaller and look like they suffered. They will grow back if they have died. Some of our Chandler strawberry plants look dead. Either that or they are extremely dormant! The deer were killing them off by eating the leaves. Too many deer!

The hoophouse was still bursting with great food. Plenty of salad greens: lettuce; various kinds of mizuna and ferny mustards like Ruby Streaks and Golden Frills and Bulls Blood beet leaves. And for salads or cooking we have spinach, chard, tatsoi, radishes, scallions, baby Hakurei turnips and their tasty greens, Red and White Russion kales, and more senposai. In January we start on the heading Asian greens: pak choy, Chinese cabbage, Tokyo bekana and Yukina Savoy. The first sowing of tatsoi (9/7) was starting to bolt, so we cleared that. The first round of baby lettuce mix (10/24) was ready for its second cut. I love working in the hoophouse on sunny winter days.

2/22/2014 11:58:22 PM

That's a great test for cold tolerance! I'm surprised that any variety of lettuce survived in those temperatures. Here in the SF Bay area, we got as low as 27F (I know, but that's cold for us) and my Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce survived, only bolting two weeks ago as our temperatures were over 70F (and very dry).

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