Good Gardening - Cold Benefits

Dec 7, 2015

You might think the recent cold weather over Thanksgiving was bad for your garden. John Fischer tells us the opposite is true.

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After the warmest summer ever, our recent cold snap has turned the pepper and tomato plants from green to black in a hurry.  The deciduous trees that looked like red and yellow hot air balloons poised for take off, are now bare branches in the sky surrounded by colorful carpets.
  Some of my winter vegetables took a hit in the twenty degree weather.  I lost a few cauliflowers that I was hoping to cook for Christmas dinner, and the recently frozen lettuce leaves are laying limp and wilted on the now soggy ground.
  But much of what we grow in Oregon needs cold weather to thrive, and survive.  
  Many fruit trees have a chill requirement.  If apples don't have 300 to 1000 hours of cold each winter, they will produce spotty, poorly timed crops.
  Most of what Oregon is famous for-  Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Filberts, Peaches- all the classic fruits and nuts, need the winter cold to produce their summer bounty.
  Lots of common vegetables taste better after a freeze.  Kale and Brussels Sprouts turn sweeter after temperatures in the twenties.  Mustard Greens, Collards, Kohlrabi, and Parsnips are all more palatable warm after they have spent some time in the cold.
  Freezing weather helps reduce the number of pests in your garden too.  I had to wash aphids off the winter vegetables even in January last winter.  The rain should wash their frozen remains off the the winter broccoli this year.   
  Slugs and snails don't like oozing across frozen ground.  It's too early to be sure, but we should have a few months of slime free time in our gardens after the freeze.
    So when you sit down to pay your winter heating bill, take some cold comfort from the fact that each extra dollar you owe will mean more fruit, and fewer slimy mouths to share your produce with.