Monday, January 11, 2010

Surviving the cold

Just before the coldest temps hit on Friday night, I ran out and harvested the rest of the fall greens (in the dark, with a lantern). These greens are considered semi-hardy: they can tolerate a dip into the upper 20s, but go floppy at temperatures below that. 5216
From left to right: collard greens, bok choy, Swiss chard, and a few Easter Egg radishes.

On Saturday morning, it was bright and sunny, but COLD. Despite the bright sun, temperatures remained below freezing until nearly noon. I caught this squirrel licking ice at the bottom of the bird bath. Silly squirrel. I went out and filled the bird bath with warm water, but he didn't return. Guess he didn't want to get his feets wet.

The lengths I go to, babying my lime trees--rope lights and a clip light with a 60 watt bulb provide heat beneath a scaffold of tomato cages, covered with floating row cover that allegedly provides 4 to 6 degrees of protection. I've had this Bearss lime tree about three years; it flowered for the first time last year, but bore no fruit.

A Mexican key lime gets the same treatment. This four-year-old tree has borne a few delicious limes, but not as many as it's capable of. The drought has not been kind to citrus.
I watered both trees Saturday morning. We were supposed to get rain last Wednesday, but it never came.

The fall veggies are hanging in there. I'm most concerned about the broccoli (in the shady section in the back of this photo); the leaves are looking a bit floppy. The cauliflower (front), Brussels sprouts (left) and cabbage (top) look less floppy. However, I see no sign of a cauliflower head or Brussels sprout, and some bug is nibbling at the cabbage. I should have planted these much earlier, but my broken hand did not allow it. Live and learn.

Turnips and beets are looking good.

Other things that are looking good (not pictured): roses (all), autumn sage, Gulf muhly, lamb's ear, Bath's pink dianthus, Pringle's bee balm, freesia, saffron crocus. Not that any of these are blooming, no, but the foliage is intact. The sedums and buddleia look fine, too. Anything that can make it through a drought, 107° fall temps and 17° winter temps is, in my opinion, a proven winner, and I will be planting more.

Things should be warming up and getting wetter this week, hooray!
Garden, "You're gonna make it after all!"
MTM hat toss


  1. I think my Meyer lemon has survived under blankets and with lights. I've had it for years but only planted it out last spring when its pot got too big for me to carry it in and out of the house.

    My English peas (both covered and exposed) seem to have survived. Everything in my vegetable garden (covered with floating row cover) seems okay (peas, Swiss chard, arugula, onion sets). Even the remains of the lettuce I pulled up before the freeze seems okay. I'm surprised. Well see more damage as the plants finally thaw out and warm up today.

  2. MSS, I think my chard might have made it as well, as it only got down to 17° F in my neighborhood Friday night (12° F was predicted), but I didn't want to take the chance! Glad to hear you fared well.

  3. Wow...your veggies look great. Looks like you are taking good care of everything! It is kind of a mystery to me what will return in the spring...:/ Guess I will find out. Have a good day!