Frost Tolerance of Garden Vegetables #2 – Fall Frost

I live in Zone 6 but am tainted by growing up in Zone 8.  Every early spring, when temperatures are still constantly dipping below freezing I start to hear about Zone 8ers eating lettuce, carrots, radishes and other veggies from their gardens and greenhouses. I’m jealous, fresh garden veggies in March sounds so fantastic. Alas, I’m otherwise happy in my Zone 6 home and not going anywhere soon so I make due with what I have.

In the later summer and early fall, warm days can help kick start your fall garden.

I try to look for hardy varieties and plant what does best in my areas. More importantly, I pay attention to the temperatures certain veggies can handle, making sure a frosty morning doesn’t get my eggplants come early October.

Knowing the frost tolerance of garden veggies can help with fall garden planning. In concurrence with watching the weather, one can be garden bedside, waiting to throw a row cover on to keep veggies toast warm on a cool fall night.

Here is a summary of frost tolerance:

Very Hardy (below 25F) – Collards, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Mache, Parsley, Parsnip, Spinach

Hardy (25F – 28F) – Arugula, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Chicory, Cilantro, Endive, Fava Bean, Green Onions, Lettuce, Radicchio, Radish, Rutabaga, Salsify, Swiss Chard, Turnips

Moderately Hardy (28F) – Artichoke, Asian Greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Cress, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mustard Greens, Pak Choi, Potatoes, Peas (Flowers are Tender)

Tender (32F) – Beans, Celeriac/Celery, Dill, Gourds, Squash, Stevia, Tomatoes

Very Tender (35F) – Basil, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lima Beans, Muskmelon, Okra, Pepper, Sweet Potatoes, Watermelon

Things that can impact Frost Tolerance

  • High wind speeds
  • Multiple nights with freezing temperatures
  • Cool/Cold daytime temperatures
  • Flowers and Fruits are usually more sensitive to frost, making fall starting plants more sustempale to damage
  • Multiple early frosts can prompt unwanted early flowering for brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, asian greens, cabbage, etc.).
    • While this generally isn’t a problem for fall, it’s important to remember in the springtime

I’m ready for wearing sweaters and beanies, but I’m not ready for the gardening season to be over yet, so I’m not gonna let it be.

What do you do to extend your garden into fall?

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