Tips for Freeze Below 30 Degrees

Santa Fe has had a nice, warm October with a few short freezes.  This week it is forecast to be below 30 degrees and will most likely freeze on Friday night. You can garden year round in Santa Fe and here are some tips to close out your warm season garden and start a winter garden.

1. Harvest all of the fruits and vegetables from tomato, cucumber, chile and summer squash before Friday.  The vegetables and especially tomatoes can be frozen overnight.  Green tomatoes can be picked as well and stored on the counter in newspaper or a paper bag to ripen. These warm season plants will die if it stays cold for a longer period at night so many people will take those plants out and compost them. It will be warmer again next week so you could cover them with row cover and blankets for the freezing nights to see if they will stay in your garden longer.

2. Cool season plants, like kale, swiss chard, broccoli and root vegetables should be fine through this first frost. These plants are frost tolerant. Cover your plants with row cover, a blanket or tarp to keep them from freezing.  Use rocks or bricks to keep the blanket around the plants.  Sticks, small rebar or dowels could be placed into the dirt around the plants to keep the blanket from crushing the plants.

What is Row Cover?
Row Cover is a material that allows UV rays from the sun and air through to continue to grow the plants while they are covered for wind or cold weather. It can also stay on the plants while you water them during the winter. There is a thicker row cover for winter that will allow the plants to live in nights that freeze. You can purchase row cover at local nurseries or order larger rolls online. Payne’s Nursery has local row cover and Johnny’s has rolls for a lower price. You can place the row cover directly over plants and use rocks to hold it down instead of buying all of the staples and wires for the short term.

What Plants Can I Grow in the Winter?
Greens are the best plant to grow in the winter in Santa Fe. We have lots of sun and expanding temperatures in the early fall.  The greens can grow from seed as it is getting colder in October and November inside of a hoop house.  Here are some tips on starting a hoop house. Once the ground is frozen in December, the plants will halt their growing but stay alive until there is more sun and warmer temperatures in the spring. Swiss Chard, Kale, Romaine Lettuce, Arugula and Spinach all will grow over the winter with a hoop house.

Let us know your tips for a freeze in Santa Fe. We would love to see some green tomato recipes and ways that you store your herbs and vegetables.

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3 responses to “Tips for Freeze Below 30 Degrees

  1. Do you have suggestions about root crops like carrots, beets, and potatoes at freeze time?

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    • Heather,
      Beets and Carrots will make it through the freeze and even some snow. I have had carrots growing outside until December and have picked them in the snow.

      Potatoes do not do well with a freeze. Here is a chart from NMSU on growing vegetables in NM with more details on all types of plants. I would pull them up and leave them in a place without sun to rest. I keep mine in my crawl space or the garage for lower temperatures and they last longer there. I also keep them in a paper bag folded over. If you have some outside during the freeze, you could keep them to grow more next year.

      Good luck this week,
      Amy

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