Protecting Your Crops from Frost

Frosty temperatures are looming in the not-so-distant future, reminding us that it’s time to let go of the last few peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. We need to finish planting for the rest of the fall and winter as well as prepare the garden for the next round of cold weather.

Some North Texas gardeners take a break from gardening during the cool months while others press on and continue to take advantage of the ideal winter weather we have for growing Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.), root vegetables and leafy greens. The winter garden is almost easier to maintain than the hot, dry, insect-infested summer garden we are used to dealing with. The occasional cold day is the only formidable nemesis the winter gardener faces.

Luckily, there are a few tricks and tips that can help you have a successful winter garden.

1. Watch the Weather

If you plan to garden this winter, watch out for days or nights that will be under 35 degrees for more than an hour. If temperatures will be above 35 degrees consistently, all of your cold-hardy winter crops should be fine.

2. Water Your Garden

Once you know that cold weather is coming, water your garden well. Moist soil will help keep the plants’ roots warm. Then, cover all of the exposed soil with straw, leaf or wood mulch. The mulch will help keep the soil moist and seal in the heat.

3. Cover Your Plants

For individual plants, use buckets, nursery pots or cloches. Secure the cover with a rock or brick. Remove any opaque covers once the temperatures warm. For large spaces or raised beds, cover your plants with frost cloth, plastic sheeting or old blankets and sheets. Make sure the plants are completely covered and the edges of your cover are tucked in and secure.

For more gardening tips, join us for an upcoming workshop.

By Becca Knutson
Community Garden Coordinator, Tarrant Area Food Bank