Freezing in Georgia: What to do for Your Garden?
Arctic blast could damage your plants!
How cold is it going to get?
Temperatures are plummeting into the low teens here in Georgia this week! Wednesday and Thursday are looking to be some pretty cold days for us southerners. Wind chill could be as cold as 4 degrees Thursday morning! For more information on the forecast visit these two links. I always look at both myself!
Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/weather/5day/l/USGA0028:1:US
National Weather Service: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/
What should we do for our plants?
Long periods of cold and extreme low temperatures can damage even our heartiest winter crops! In Georgia we are privileged with being able to grow year round if we protect our plants from these extremes. Hopefully you have already mulched well if you don’t have raised beds. Raised beds naturally retain more heat and mulch protects the root zone from cold damage and also generates some heat.
So what do you do now? Add mulch if you have it available but more important when the lows are this extreme is to cover your plants. The leafy parts of our winter vegetables are pretty tough but in the teens they can get severely damaged and possibly even die. If you have any tender perennials or winter vegetables get them under something asap.
The earlier or warmer it is when you cover them the more heat you will trap in! Cover with whatever you have on hand! Old sheets or light blankets, burlap or even a tarp is going to help! The best protection is of course a greenhouse or high tunnel, cold-frame or frost fabric. We use frost fabric as it’s the most versatile, movable, affordable, and allows sunlight and some breathing so it can be left on as long as necessary. I have had success ordering from Gempler’s but you may find it locally also. It is a good idea to remove other covers when temperatures go above freezing during the day so plants don’t overheat.
What if you end up with damage anyway?
So maybe you forgot, got home too late or didn’t read all these great tips beforehand, and your garden didn’t get covered? Or maybe you covered it perfectly and it just got way too cold? No worries, you’re bound to have some plants that will hopefully survive and some that wont. Don’t get the shovel out just yet! Wait a few days to see how bad the damage really is. If leaves are completely dead at this point cut them off. Leave the center stem and see if it starts to grow new leaves. I have had many damaged plants recover from an unexpected early frost and still be able to produce, it just takes longer.
So what are you waiting for, get outside and cover your plants!