Baby, it’s cold outside! Even here in Florida we’re experiencing frigid temperatures. As a gardener, this doesn’t make me happy. Like many of my gardener friends, I still had tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the ground, nurturing them until the last-minute before the first freeze. And they were doing so well!
But with the cold comes the “crush” and my warm-loving crops have been wiped out. I suppose the good news is that I no longer have to weed and feed the little lovelies. Though I will miss them. In the meantime, I’ll simply focus on those of my plants that enjoy the cold weather. Like broccoli.
This green beauty isn’t bothered by a few frosty mornings. Nor are my blueberries. In fact, they need a minimum amount of “chill” hours in order to set fruit. Chill hours occur when temperatures dip between 32°F and 45°F.
Like other living forms, plant cells contain water and water can freeze. During a frost, if water in plants’ cells freeze, it can damage cell walls. Why? Because solid ice takes up more space than the liquid it froze. The crystals then rupture the tough cell walls and when the ice melts, the liquid drains out, dehydrating the plant. Soil can also freeze, which threatens a plant’s ability to get nourishment.
There are several mitigating factors with regard to how damaging a cold spell will be, such as how long the temperature remains low, whether or not it’s a clear evening versus a nice warm “blanket” of cloud cover. Are your plants located in low spots or high across your landscape? Even the difference in heat retention between dark soil and light can determine the extent of the damage. Yikes!
Stay warm, gardeners!