Well, this season has zoomed by. As expected, I was too busy just keeping up with the garden to bother to write anything about it. But I took a ton of pictures, and I have many snowy months ahead, and I have many analysis posts bubbling up to post. But as I’m still in the middle of wrapping up the garden for winter, it may be a bit. And given that I got my first bad head cold in over a year this week, I haven’t been able to take advantage of the last week of warm weather to do my clean-up. 😦
However, now we’ve just had our first freeze– FINALLY! Our usual first freeze is the 1st week of October; this year’s freeze didn’t hit until November 1. I had gotten to the point where I was tearing out my squash and tomato plants even though I knew, based on our weather reports, that they could have had another week or two in the ground. I never thought I’d be wanting the winter to come sooner, but these past few weeks I was getting kinda twitchy waiting for it to finally hit. The leaves are only just now changing and dropping from the trees–usually the trees are bare by the time Halloween comes.
Plants That Did Not Survive The Freeze:
Now that it has, I can say without a doubt that dahlias do NOT like freezing temperatures whatsoever. All of my backyard dahlias turned brown and limp overnight. I harvested the last of the blooms on Halloween–my kitchen windowsill is completely filled right now. It looks beautiful, but for the first time in three months, I have no new bouquets to look forward to. The plan is to let the dahlia plants sit for a week or two and then dig them up and store them. Dahlias will get their own post–maybe even two. I have a lot to say about dahlias this year.
Other plants that did not fare well in the freeze were my zinnias, and my potatoes. The zinnias look just as brown as the dahlias. The potato leaves looked brown and flopped over completely. I harvested the last potato planting from September today, and did actually get a fair amount of fingerling potatoes. The nasturtiums died as well. I thought I remembered them being more cold-resistant last year, but apparently they are only warm-weather plants.
Also, my night-blooming jasmine bushes, which I knew ahead of time would not be happy with the cold, did not survive. I had three but only have the space to overwinter one, so the other two were left out in the cold, and are looking just as bad as the dahlias. (Unfortunately no one in my area had the space or setup to successfully overwinter medium-sized bushes.) Technically the two outdoor plants are still green, but the leaves are limp and I’m sure another night of freezing temps will kill them entirely.
And, surprisingly, my lovely Moonflower vine died just as quickly as the dahlias. I wish it was a perennial–it took a good four months for the vine to get up and going, and I only had a month and a half to enjoy the flowers.
And my green onions and smaller calendula plants (both of which are planted in greenstalks) did not fare well.
Plants That Survived The Freeze Just Fine:
My white-blooming Nicotiana plant survived, surprising enough. I though that given that it has very soft foliage, it was sure to die off. And it’s massive–the seed packet didn’t lie, it did actually get 6′ tall! And 3′ wide. It has HUGE, fuzzy, sticky leaves which are also apparently resistant to frost. But, the freeze has not made a dent in any part of it yet, as for as I can tell.
The rudbeckias and echinaceas are also unfazed. My Shasta daisies and sunflowers were already dead before the freeze hit. The violas and pansies also petered out before the freeze, but I think they could have taken teh cold temps if the plants hadn’t been so old.
My large purple cabbages are also unaffected, though their grow rate has significantly slowed. The beets and turnips have also survived–but again, are not growing significantly. The Brussel sprouts are also alive but no longer growing.
The leeks are faring the same–still healthy and alive, but not really growing.The swiss chard also survived, but I’m not sure how much longer it’ll last.
Plants That Are Thriving Now That It Is Cold:
My broccoli plants are the happiest campers right now. They are obviously continuing to grow, and the leaves are crisp and fresh-looking. Admittedly, I planted my broccoli late–in mid-September, IIRC–but the plants are still happy. They are not producing shoots yet, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m growing the Rudolph variety, which is supposedly December sprouting. I also planted a variety that is supposed to be able to overwinter in Zone 6 (I’m zone 5 a/b) so we’ll have to wait and see how that one does.
All of my lettuces are also quite happy–they look even better than my kales. I’m growing several of Johnny’s Salanova varieties, and other varieties that are supposed to be able to withstand the cold, and so far, so good.
The snapdragons are quite happy as well, and are still showing the light-green of new growth. They do not have as many blooms as they produced during the summer, though.
To be continued…