On the Southern California coastline, we take our gardening climate for granted. The ease of growing just about anything makes us a bit complacent about paying attention to the weather, but once in a while, we get nailed by extreme weather conditions. We’ve already had a touch of frost, and depending on your microclimate, your garden may have suffered more damage than your friend who lives six blocks away. Frosty will visit again, so the following information might be helpful to you, depending on what you are growing in your garden now. These are general guidelines for your vegetables:
The following veggies are more warm weather oriented but if you are still growing them in your garden there is a good chance they will be damaged by LIGHT FROST (28-33 degrees F): Basil, Beans, Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Chervil, Cilantro, Cress, Cucumbers, Dill, Eggplants, Marjoram, Muskmelon, New Zealand Spinach, Okra, Peppers, Pumpkins, Rosemary, Shiso, Summer Squash, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and Watermelon.
These veggies are cool weather growers. They actually like cooler nights and can withstand LIGHT FROST (28-33 degrees F): Artichokes, Beets, Calendula, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Endive, Lettuce, Pansies, Parsnips, Peas, Snapdragons, Sweet Peas, Sweet Alyssum, Swiss Chard
These veggies grow best in cold weather and can withstand HARD FROST (below 28 degrees F): Broccoli, Cabbage, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Onions, Parsley, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips
Personally, I take the ‘survival of the fittest’ approach, but if you live where the chance for frost is higher you might want to consider using one of the following methods to protect your plants from damage: floating row covers, plastic tunnels, cold frames, newspapers, old bedsheets, blankets, tablecloths, cardboard boxes, plastic milk or water jugs.
Succulents take heavies when we have the double whammy of rain and frost. If possible, place your succulents are under the protection of eaves and make sure they are draining well if they do get rained on. Too much water will saturate the plant cells and a frost will damage the saturated cells, killing whole sections of your succulent, if not the whole plant. I noticed that my hanging rat-tail cactus sustained damage on two stalks with our recent cold snap. Bummer.
Important Note: Remember, if your other shrubs and small trees sustain frost damage, DO NOT PRUNE THE DAMAGED GROWTH!!! Leave it on the plant until you see new growth in the spring.