Even though the almanac calls for another “colder-than-average” winter, and the first frost is approaching soon for many areas, the gardening season is far from over. There are still food crops that can be planted now for late fall and early winter harvest in your survival gardens and patio planters.
Thanks to the water transporting properties of the tissues in these tough plants, they can move the water out of their vulnerable cells as the temperature approaches freezing. The ice crystals form in open spaces between cells, and then melt and reabsorb into the plant cells when the temperatures rise again. Only a prolonged deep freeze can kill the hardiest of cool weather crops. As your tomato plants and other warm-weather veggies give you their last produce and drop dead, consider these food crop replacements for your valuable survival garden real estate. Here are some veggies that can tolerate a range of conditions:
Light frosts (29–32 degrees): Swiss chard, beets, carrots
Hard frosts (25–28 degrees): Cabbage, lettuce, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi
Temps in the low 20s and high teens: Spinach, kale, collards, leeks, and garlic
Other crops can also be grown in less frigid areas. Irish potatoes, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, endive, gourmet salad greens, radicchio, rutabaga, and salsify can tolerate light frosts and extended cool spells.
What will you grow in your garden this fall and winter? Let us know your favorite cool-weather produce in the comments.