The Hard Freeze in Houston

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Finally we are getting rain, and the cold weather has arrived. This is the time for freezing temperatures to keep hitting us.

The hard freeze came and went, and life in the garden continues. Long periods of freezing temperatures can come back until the end of winter, so I am stilling watching my plants. I expected the tomato plants, eggplants, and peppers to suffer. I also thought my coleus to die back. However, I was not sure how bad the damage would be to other plants. My wife was quite worried that we would loose many plants, like last year, so she wanted to head out to cover plants. Last year’s freeze hurt plants that had never been effected in the past. With trepidation, I walked out into the garden to asses the fate of my plants.

    With the expectation of more damage, I was surprised to find signs that the freeze had not been that bad. The eggplants still had new growth, as did the pepper plants. The tomato plants did suffer badly. Outside of the vegetable garden, I found only the coleus effected by the freeze. Not all of the coleus died back. The only plant that I had covered was the avocado tree. Once established, this tree will be fine in our climate, but I had just planted this one, so I did not want to risk loosing it. I thought that my ornamental grasses would possibly succumb to the freeze. I had purchased them in the fall, when the season for these grasses was over. They have flourished though, and they still are fine.
    I did water the garden before the freeze. The moist ground mitigates effects of the freeze, and since we had so little rain, I felt that was needed. The task did make neighbors wonder why I would be watering, but a few asked, so I saw another neighbor do the same. I pruned the damaged limbs from various plants. The only plant that I cut down fully was the tomato plants. You might think the pepper plants or eggplants should be pulled out, but I have found that these plants can come back the next year. The evidence of the new growth may be a sign of hope. The pruning is necessary. The plants will expend energy dealing with the frost bit limbs, instead of putting the energy into the surviving limbs.
    My garden is being prepared for the next growing season. I am adding compost to the mulch. I am using my hoe to disturb the mulch where weeds pop up. I am also using my hoeing technique on the compost piles behind the bushes. I do not want to turn these piles, which is more work, so by using the hoe, I achieve the same thing as turning the pile. I am also shifting compost and dirt around to complete my new garden bed structure. No plants are in those beds yet, but this can be a time saver in the next few months. I can put the plants into place quickly.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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