Protecting my winter crops

We've had one really cold night in St. Louis so far, when it dipped down to 16ºF (-9ºC) ten days ago. It didn't stay that cold of course, and we even had a record high temperature of 80ºF since that cold night, but cold is coming again.

(I'm struggling on what tense to use here, as the photos were taken yesterday before the cold arrived, but I'm writing it in the morning when it's 13ºF/-10ºC). It was forecast to get down to 10ºF (-12ºC) so I'm not too upset about 13ºF. Back on point: I had to spend some time yesterday getting my cold-loving winter vegetables covered.


For me covering the veggies means wire. I had a few pre-cut hoops that I used last year, but I knew it wouldn't be enough since I used the bigger bed this year.

Luckily I had bought some suitable but not-quite-as-sturdy-as-I-would-like wire last year, even though I hadn't needed it. It took me a while to remember where it was -- it had been in my truck for a year!

Since I haven't shown you my fall plantings yet, here they are:

Kale!  I've got some small ones:

Some medium-sized:

And some larger ones:

I probably won't have to post about fall-planted kale again, as you can just assume that I'll be planting it every single year for the rest of my gardening life -- having a huge supply of early-spring kale was fantastic this year!

The wire was surprisingly easy to work with and didn't tangle like the stranded wire does. In fact, it essentially formed a giant Slinky®:

Since I had already exposed these plants to the earlier 16ºF temperature for a night, my swiss chard wasn't looking too good:

I decided to cover that bed too, just in case the plants are not all dead -- I couldn't see any leaves though so this may be a futile effort.

With the supports in place... was time to get some plastic sheeting out of the garage. I have several pieces of sheeting from the past few years (when I used to cover my young bamboos to protect them during the winter) but choosing the right size is not always easy.

One of them was perfect for the smaller possibly-dead-but-maybe-not chard bed, but the kale bed needed a large section cut from a huge piece -- my cutting job isn't going to win any prizes but it wasn't too bad for numb fingers, uncooperative wind, and failing light.

So the kale (and possibly chard) is protected for the winter. The only thing I have left to do is mulch the potted bamboos and hope that these early cold snaps are not indicative of the type of winter we have in store this year.


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Steve Lau  – (November 24, 2013 at 11:01 AM)  

Do you just go with the 3 mil film? I might need some, but I need to know it is tear resistant.

Lisa  – (November 24, 2013 at 8:37 PM)  

This was on my to-do list. The unseasonably cold weather may have crossed it off for me. 5 degrees last night!

Alan  – (November 25, 2013 at 7:42 AM)  

Steve: the larger piece felt stiffer then 3 mil, but I don't really know as the pieces are a few years old and I no longer remember the details.

Lisa: That's cold, and so early!

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