Row by Row Episode 128: Growing Vegetables in Colder Climates

Growing Vegetables in Colder Climates

As the cold weather made it to South Georgia it’s only right for the guys to discuss how to garden in these colder climates. This week they discuss just how cold tolerant some vegetables really are in the vegetable garden. Depending on where you live your average first frost date can depend based on your zone. If you do not know your zone the USDA has lots of tools that can help you determine your Plant Hardiness Zone. In South Georgia, Zone 8b, our average first frost date can come around 20 to 25 days later. Therefore this year, our average first frost date is closer to December 2nd.

Ideal Growing Temperatures for Colder Climates

Some of the really cold tolerant vegetable crops include onions, carrots, garlic, collards, etc. To begin garlic can handle temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit. As far as leeks, collards, Brussel sprouts, and parsnips they can all take down to zero degrees Fahrenheit. Kale depending on different varieties can only take temperatures down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. While chard, beets, and kohlrabi can only handle temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. However, carrots can be a little tricky when it comes to cold weather. Supposedly the carrot tops can take down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit, but the roots can take temperatures closer down to zero degrees if you have them mulched well in the vegetable garden. For both spinach and onion varieties, they will take about 20 degrees of colder climates. However, the Walla Walla onion is the most cold-tolerant and will take temperatures down to zero. While cabbage is good down to 25 degrees and rutabaga is fine down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

As far as cover crops the most cold-tolerant is winter rye it can take temperatures down to -40 degrees. The frosty clover is supposed to be good in colder climates down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to hairy vetch it can handle temps down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. While both crimson clover and winter pea will be fine in cold temperatures down to -10 degrees. If you live in the North you can grow some of these cold-tolerant cover crops especially if you start them in the Fall.

When it comes to some of these cold-tolerant vegetables there are a few that you need to be more careful with when growing in the vegetable garden. If you just have plants and no heads showing on your broccoli and cauliflower they should be alright, but if you have heads if they get a freeze on them they will be ruined. The best way to avoid getting a freeze on those heads is either cover them or harvest them early from the vegetable garden. For turnips and mustard, they will take a light frost that will burn them back a little bit but they usually will come back. As far as radishes they are pretty much burnt with a good frost. The last crop you need to be somewhat careful with is lettuce. When you experience frost on your lettuce we recommend not touching or disturbing that crop at all just let the frost melt off naturally.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment this week, Travis has some Primus Sweet Corn that he harvested from the vegetable garden recently. The guys also talk about the cold snap coming in. Which is beneficial to break up that insect pressure, and with a really cold winter, it can help the spring garden not have such a bad insect pressure.

As we getting closer to the new year, Travis has some new varieties to share that will be ideal for your vegetable garden next year. The first variety is the Pepitas Pumpkin. This pumpkin variety is a hybrid and has hull-less “naked seeds” that are supposed to be nutritious and have a great flavor profile. Next is the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin which is an heirloom variety that has excellent storage once harvested from the garden. The Long Island Cheese produces around 6-10 lb fruits that are great for soups or pies. The third variety mentioned is the Snow Mass Melon which is a large honeydew melon that produces 6-8 lb fruits. This melon variety has a high brix rating which means it is very sweet. Another new variety is the Orient Wonder Bean which produces long, slender beans also known as yard-long or Chinese noodle beans. The last two varieties are the Roadster and Invincible Tomato which are both popular varieties to grow in the vegetable garden. The Roadster Tomato is a hybrid, determinate variety that makes large to jumbo tomatoes with excellent flavor profiles. Lastly, the Invincible Tomato is also a hybrid, determinate variety with excellent disease-resistance including late blight which is ideal if you are growing in the South.

Viewer Questions

For the Q & A segment this week, the guys answer some viewer questions that were asked on last week’s show. The first question from a viewer is can you plant just a few gynoecious cucumbers in a certain area to enhance pollinating. We recommend planting at least 25 seeds to ensure you get one of those pollinizer seeds. If you cannot plant 25 seeds, we suggest planting one seed from either a pickler or slicer variety to make your own pollinizer in the garden. When it comes to the rotation of crops it is just as important in a raised bed as it is in an in-ground garden. If you have only a few raised beds to rotate crops in you may have to be on a shorter rotation than you would with an in-ground vegetable garden. When growing tomatoes in seed starting trays the best time to start them is anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks.

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