We had our first real freeze on the night of November 11. I knew it was coming, so set out my plant-protecting infrastructure.
I set the cold frames over the mesclun and a few less-hardy lettuces and other greens. I have tall hoops over the kale, Swiss chard and Brussels sprouts, so I covered them with row cover. Overall they’re pretty hardy anyway, so I wasn’t too worried about them. And I threw row cover over the onions and escarole.
I went out to check on everything the next morning, and initially I was afraid I might have made some miscalculations. Everything was frozen solid. All the greens were frozen, the leek leaves were frozen solid and even the row cover was frozen into a hard sheet. I’d never seen this before, so I started to worry. The leeks especially got me, because I know I’ve harvested them out of the snow on much colder days than a night that dipped into the 20s.
Then I remembered the rain. It had rained all day before it got cold, so everything was covered in a layer of water when the temperature dropped.
When I checked on everything later in the day, they had thawed out and were completely fine. The escarole got burned in a few places around the edges where the row cover had blown off and it was exposed, but even that damage was very very minimal. So – success! We can successfully weather a freeze.
I’ll probably keep the row cover and cold frames on for the indefinite future, unless the temperature is really going to warm up. I’ll have to regularly vent the cold frames in the mornings, though, so I don’t end up with fried greens like I did to my carrots and beets in the spring.
So here we are, in mid-November, still harvesting fresh foods out of the garden. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to work towards feeding ourselves from the garden from April through November, and we have already achieved that just with our fresh foods. On top of that we have storage crops like sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and preserved foods like canned tomato sauces and frozen shredded summer squash.
I think we are doing well.