In Preparation Of The Freeze

Photo by Julia Volk on

By Jannie Vaught

We received a freeze and knowing it was headed our way many of us began the preparation. Even though water pipes were wrapped some had broken pipes inside and outside. And it happened on Christmas there were no stores open. When we are preparing for freezing temperatures it would do us well to have in our preparations items for repair. Needing a valve may be what gets water into your house. Keeping a few extra connections and pipe plus glue can help in a faster repair. I am no plumber, but I do have some basic skills as to how to turn off the water and keep it from running down the road. and even do a simple repair. Learning a few skills can get you to a point where your plumber or handyman can get to your problem.

Even though I have cold weather gardens now this cold and wind took out even the cabbage! These were covered with frost cloth but by the time the wind had done its damage the freeze had turned the leaves to a leathery dry state. I waited several days and turned on the outside water and watered hoping they would revive. In a few days, it was clear that they were mush! The cellular structure ruptured. Many gardening sites will tell you to leave them. I didn’t. The greens are now in the chicken pen. The small trees and shrubs are to be left unless there is a broken limb that can be cut off to prevent any further damage. The bulbs of paper white had just finished flowering outside and their long leaves were frozen. I am leaving these, the bulbs will be good under the soil as Keenan Fletcher told me their “Tough”. Any root vegetables seemed to survive, beets, turnips, and Dakon radish. if they were small and close to the surface they did get damaged and went to chickens. After the chickens have their turn with all this it goes into the composter with a layer of brown over the top. And some of this went into the worm bins. They needed water also. Every season is a learning experience. a friend had a greenhouse heater fail and lost many sensitive plants.

I had been experimenting with warming the hoop house with thermal mass, which is deep wide raised beds and growing lights. but still, the above area got too cold. Lessons learned, when you know a freeze is coming, wrap all pipes. Disconnect and drain outside water, and have stored water for yourself and water to feed outside animals. And some to flush the toilet. Check the greenhouse heaters and use double frost cloth. If you have chickens we coated their combs with thick vaseline to prevent frostbite, some got it anyway. Keep a thick layer of straw down, extra feed, and water they need calories to stay warm. and bring inside any house plants or potted plants. I know we all know these things. And even though we prepare as best as we can there is always something going to happen. For this freeze, it was the wind that was the issue. Even though we get up-to-the-minute weather now with wind directions, speed, and current temperatures nature is always moving and changing. Now here is the big question, re-plant? I will after I get the heater in the hoop house and another grow light. It will be Lettuce and mustard greens possibly some radishes as they grow fast. And as I have lost many plants I will use this space for leeks and onions starts that will be arriving possibly Mid-January, keep your eye out. Then comes potato season.

This is how we grow year-round, we learn to roll with the weird weather. protect as best as we can and keep moving forward into the next season. I personally get a little upset when I lose viable food plants as I have put money and time into them, then I realize nothing is lost because it becomes food down the line.

Next up is to rethink how I grow.

It is spring into early summer, clear it out let it lay then an early fall, and harvest everything before Christmas? That’s what has happened for the last several years. Upgrade the greenhouse and plant or transplant into 5-gallon buckets and place them in a warmer area. That’s something to put on top of the list looking into the future. Flexible gardening indeed. Seed catalogs are arriving with all their pretty pictures and the hope of a vibrant spring is ahead.

Grow what you eat, Use flowers that survive, and keep your shovel and rake at the ready. We are learning and that is valuable.

Growing Green With Jannie