The Miracle of Frost Hardy Vegetables

Since the first snow fall I have pretty much ignored my vegetable garden, since it was covered with several inches of snow for an unusual number of weeks. After returning from my holiday vacation to a snow free garden, and with a mild,sunny day to work outside, I decided to investigate if anything was salvageable. I pulled up the white row cloth covering some lettuce, cilantro and spinach and was shocked to discover that the cilantro and spinach looked totally edible.

The lettuce inside my cold frame, like that under the row cover, had succumbed to too many cycles of freeze-thaw, so I pulled it out after salvaging a few inner leaves. The lettuce I harvested weeks ago is still doing fine in my refrigerator so I mentally kicked myself for not harvesting (and therefore being able to eat) it all at once. But, had I done so, I would not have gained this new piece of data.

The fall peas were dead but the carrots growing at their base were still green so I harvested a few to check the size and taste: medium and delicious. I heard in an NPR interview with Dan Barber recently that carrots don’t get sweet until they go through several freezes. I brought a carrot in for my son, who, after consuming it, decided he needed to go out and harvest more for his snack.

The garlic had sent out 2-3 inch shoots so I covered them with straw for a little insulation and spring weed suppression. The fall-planted kale and pak-choi were still alive, although tiny, so I left them in the ground to see if they would survive until spring. I planted spinach seeds in the not-quite frozen top layer of soil: one set in my cold frame and another next to the cilantro. One of my co-workers experienced her best spinach crop from seeds she had planted the previous fall so I thought I would give it a try.

green onions in januaryThe biggest suprise for me were the tiny green onions still thriving despite zero protection from the elements.

-Ryan Mooney-Bullock

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