how to protect plants from frost Damage (6 Proven Ways)

Read here to learn how to protect plants from frost Damage. If you notice frozen water droplets on your growing vegetables, you must cover them to prevent them from freezing over.

Having a vegetable garden on your balcony, in a small outdoor greenhouse, or in your backyard can be a fantastic feature.

Whether you grow vegetables for personal consumption or sell your produce commercially, there is something therapeutic about eating fresh, delicious vegetables you have grown.

However, as calming as vegetable gardening can be, the task can become quite challenging during extremely low temperatures. If you do nothing to protect your vegetable garden from frost, you will have lower-quality produce.

Keep reading to learn how to protect your vegetable garden from frost and which vegetables need the most protection during winter.

Why is it Important to Protect Your Garden from Frost?

Any time you purchase vegetables from the local produce market, you spend money on food items you know little about.

While you may be buying carrots for their high nutritional value, you may be completely unaware of the water quality or contamination in which the carrots have grown.

As a result, you will be consuming and feeding your family vegetables that will offer very little nutritional value.

Why to protect plants from frost damage

1. Hyrid veggies around

This is one of the primary reasons why people across the globe have gone back to the traditional practice of growing their vegetables and fruits on their property.

However, while you may be protecting your homegrown carrots, onions, potatoes, etc., from excessive pesticides, poor-quality watering, and other contaminants, you might still not enjoy a home garden’s full benefit if you are unable to protect your vegetables from frost.

However, why is protecting growing vegetables from a harsh winter frost so crucial?

2. Cell Death

Whenever you water your vegetable garden, some water droplets settle on the vegetable’s surfaces and are not absorbed into the soil.

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If it’s too cold outside, the resting water drops will freeze on top of the vegetables. As the frozen dewdrops make the plant colder, they can cause the water inside the plant cells to freeze.

Since most vegetables contain a high percentage of water in their cells, the spreading frost can cause the water inside the cells to burst and die.

As most of the vegetable cells begin to die, the vegetable stops growing, and it can no longer do what it needs to stay alive (aka photosynthesis). 

3. Root Rot

Apart from the water freezing on the surface of the vegetable, the winter season can also cause the water to freeze inside the potting soil your vegetables are growing in.

This usually happens when you overwater your vegetable garden during the winter months, or you do not actively change the vegetable’s watering schedule with the changing weather.

When excess water accumulates inside the soil, it can freeze around the vegetable’s roots.

Not only will this cause cell death in the frosted root cells, but it will also create an excessively moist environment that attracts airborne fungal spores.

If airborne fungal spores are to settle on the soil, it will take just a few days for the fungus to reproduce and spread all the way to the vegetable’s roots.

The fungal infection will cause the roots to decay and die, depriving the entire vegetable of proper water absorption.

As a result, the vegetable dehydrates, rots, and dies. 

4. Lesser Number of Healthy Produce

Since most of your frosted vegetables will die before they grow properly, you will harvest fewer healthy vegetables.

As a result, you might have to revert to shopping for vegetables from the local store again.

Which Vegetables Need the Most Protection During Harsh Winter Seasons?

Just like fruits, vegetables are also seasonal. While some vegetables prefer a colder environment, many are best suited to growing in warm temperatures.

These vegetables have the lowest chances of surviving frost and will probably die prematurely if nothing is done to protect them against the low temperature.

Some of these vegetables include the following:

How to Tell if Your Plant is Frozen?

People new to gardening or generally do not have the time to regularly inspect their growing vegetables are usually unable to spot and identify frost on time.

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While frost is dangerous for many warm-weather vegetables, it can be managed if detected on time.

Hence, if you are worried about the cold weather causing your vegetable garden to freeze, look for the possible signs of frost listed below.

  • An icy, white layer covers most of the vegetable’s exposed surface.
  • The vegetables do not appear colorful or vibrant.
  • You cannot notice a growth or identify any newly sprouted vegetables.
  • Your vegetables are shriveled up and seem dehydrated (underwatered).
  • Leafy plants growing your vegetables are drastically losing leaves.
  • You can notice white, yellow, or light green fungus growing in your vegetable’s potting soil.

how to protect plants from frost Damage

Ways to protect plants from frost Damage

1. Keep an Eye on the Weather Forecast

As mentioned above, protecting your vegetable garden from frost is all about making the right decisions at the right time. If you are too late, you’re not going to be able to save your plants.

The best way to be vigilant is to stay informed about the local weather forecast. Usually, forecasts can accurately predict the expected temperature drop in the coming week.

This information will help you make the required preparations to protect your growing vegetables accordingly.

Moreover, you need to know the exact freezing point for the vegetables you are growing in your garden, as different vegetables freeze at different temperatures. 

For this, pay attention to the table below to learn about the frosting temperatures of some of the garden vegetables that require protection during cold weather.

Garden VegetableRespective Frosting Temperature (°F)
Peas28 to 30
Artichoke31 to 32
Squash30 to 32
Okra29 to 30
Cucumbers30 to 32
Beans31 to 32
Carrots28 to 30
Celery31 to 32
Potato Tubers28 to 30
Beetroots29 to 30
Asparagus30 to 31

If you are growing peas and celery in the same garden, you need to protect and cover the celery before you can start worrying about your peas.

2. Water Before the Temperatures Drop

There are two critical reasons for properly watering your garden vegetables a few days before the temperature is expected to drop.

Firstly, plant cells that are well-hydrated and plump with water have a significantly lower chance of bursting and dying than dehydrated plants.

By watering your vegetables, you allow their cells a chance to store up water which will eventually help them protect themselves when the weather gets too cold.

Note: Just be aware of overwatering vs underwatering.

Secondly, according to gardening experts, wet soil can store up to four times more heat than dry soil. This helps keep the air above the soil at least five degrees warmer.

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3. Cover the Plants with a Frost Protection Cover, Frost Bag, or Row Covers

One of the best ways to protect your vegetable garden from frost is by fully covering your produce with some sort of frost protection cover.

These include row covers, frost bags, commercial plant tarps, or frost blankets. These fabric covers are usually available at most local nurseries and are specially designed to prevent heat from passing through.

Once you cover your vegetables with a row cover, the heat produced by the vegetables is contained within the covered area. This helps reduce the chances of frost and reverse signs of frost in frozen vegetables.

You can secure the frost bags or blankets with clothing pins and sticks and hold them down with rocks if the wind is cold and strong.

Moreover, if you cannot find any frost bags or covers, you can always cover your vegetable garden with a bed sheet. Although a bed sheet will not be as effective as a proper frost bag, it will be better than exposing your vegetables to the cold.

4. Invest in Constructing a Greenhouse Around Your Vegetable Garden

Greenhouses are excellent investments if you wish to regulate and control the temperature around your vegetables. Although the initial investment can be expensive, it is worth it in the long run.

By constructing a greenhouse around your vegetable garden, you can keep the air around your produce warm even when the external temperature keeps dropping.

This will help you prevent frost and harvest higher-quality produce.

Best Vegetables to Grow in Colder Regions

Although most vegetables need frost protection, some varieties thrive and improve as the temperature drops.

Some of the vegetables are as follows:

  • Spinach
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Walla Walla Sweet Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Radish

Final Thoughts

Growing your own vegetables is both therapeutic and healthy. Since you water and fertilize your vegetables yourself, you can feed your family the healthiest produce out there.

However, if you notice frozen water droplets accumulated on your growing vegetables, you must cover them with a frost blanket or row cover to prevent them from dying due to frost.