04 December 2007

Covering in a Freeze

So last night, the weather got down into that freeze zone, which doesn't happen often here in Austin (thank the baby jeebus). We decided to throw some old sheets over the veggie garden just to be sure. This morning when I lifted off the sheets, I noticed that every place that the sheets were touching the veggies--lettuce, broccoli, kale, parsley--the leaves were dark and frostbitten.

The question is: do we cover veggies in Texas? Are these things adapted to a freeze? I thought a blanket was supposed to help, not hurt. Maybe I need to keep the blanket off the leaves (which sounds like a royal pain in the ass)?

I'm sleuthing.


Rachel said...

Yes... I think we're supposed to cover veggies in a freeze. I don't know why your veggies under a sheet would look the worse for wear. Mulching is always a good plan for cold resistance, as well.

I don't think it froze in my part of town, in any case. My veggies looked fine this morning, and I didn't cover them at all.

Vivé said...

Hi Lee,

I cover the veggies in a freeze too, but I only do so if it's going to be a good freeze. (I didn't cover this week and everything looks happy.) If it's just going to hit freezing and be back up as soon as the sun comes out, I don't worry about it. Some winter veggies appreciate a little frost.

But if it gets down really low or is going to stay low, or there's going to be freezing precipitation, I cover them.

I've never had the problem you mentioned. We use floating row cover where we can, but also sheets, towels, old shower curtains. It ain't pretty, but it works.

We also cover new perennials without hardy roots systems and any tender ones (Pride of Barbados, etc.). Again, only if it's a good, hard freeze.


Lyn Never said...

Yes, pretty much anything with thin leaves needs the sheets held off of it. I use random junk in a pinch, but a V made of bamboo poles every couple of feet is pretty easy to store if you don't want to build a frame. Tender leaves will burn if they touch the cover.

My mother, who suffers from East Texas ice-coating storms, floats her sheet covers and also runs a string of holiday lights on the ground along the base of the plants if the wind chill is going to be really nasty.

Lee said...

thanks for the tips everyone!

Unknown said...

I usually just punch some bamboo poles in the ground to make a little tent. I use old painting tarps to cover mine if it is going to be a hard freeze, but sometimes they can be too heavy and crush the tender plants, so the poles work. Or use the wire coathangers that you don't want from the dry cleaners.