Winter freeze

Plants still going strong halfway through the month of November up on the Waterville plateau! Left column from top: Daikon radishes, fennel, and carrots. Right: snow peas.

Halfway through November and my autumn plants are still alive and growing? At first, I thought a miracle was happening in my yard. But then I researched it and remembered that 32° is freezing, but not necessarily for all plants.

There are three categories describing freezes: light, moderate, and severe. Most tender plants will die at a light freeze, which is 29°- 32°. I pulled up these plants and mulched them on my apple tree. A moderate freeze is 25°- 28°. Almost every other plant in my garden died except for the ones I purposely planted in late summer/early autumn.

Our weather station showed approximately 10 days below freezing during the months of October and November. A few of the days had sunshine during these light freezes, which made no apparent damage to my fall plantings of fennel, carrots, peas, and daikon.

I made sure to water the plants when it wasn't raining because cold does not equal moisture. The soil seems to be freeze-dried from the cold, dry weather, but the plants still thrive, especially the peas.

With temperatures forecasted below the set hard freeze temperature of 25° starting today, I am sure things will look different tomorrow. It's always sad at the end of the season. It's hard to let go of the gardening urge. It's time to hibernate, relax, and start planning for next year. While visions of next year's plantings dance in my head, I can research and start preparing a place for seedlings, purchase seeds, and think about all the new things I want to try. Oh, and there is always a chance that nature will surprise you in spring with new life brought to things you thought would never make it through the long, dark winter.

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