Should I Protect My Plants from a Freeze?

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We had our first freeze and snow in Houston, which means going out to protect our plants with row covers may be in order.

I was so busy working on home inspections and writing reports that I did not pay attention to my garden, as I should have. I guess that I did not believe the reports that we would have snow, and I failed to pay heed to the freeze warnings.However, I have not been to keen on creating more work for myself in the garden, so I have not been rushing out to place row covers on the plants anyway.

    Established plants that are suited to our climate do not need to be covered. Yes they will experience some frost damage, but this can be pruned away. I like the look of allowing my garden to go through its seasons, so the skeleton of a branch is not so bad. I also strongly favor eating vegetables that are in season. If some annual vegetables suffer, that is fine. I let them go to seed, so many spring up again next year. I am surprised that many of my pepper plants seem hardy enough to continue through our cold snaps. Even a few tomato plants hold on through the winter. Trying to maintain these vegetables requires work that frequently does not produce much of a return. I do take cuttings for indoors to help with a crop for next year. Cuttings are easy. Take off the tip of a plant. Wet the cut end, and stick it in some rooting hormone. Place the piece in some potting soil.

    Of course, my winter vegetables, like Swiss chard, kale, collards, and beets have done well. The lettuce came through too. I am waiting to see how the nasturtiums fare. The lemon grass is strong, and I am about ready to harvest the sun chokes. Oh yeah, I have plenty of onions. I want to explore more plants in the allium family this year. I never really focused on them, and they do need this cold spell.

    I did have the good sense to harvest some basil (the plants have done well despite the drop in temperature). I chopped some leaves to be added to cooked rice. That was a hit with the family. For the remainder, I made a pesto. You could use a blender, but I prefer mincing with my knife. Ingredients(roughly): two cups of basil leaves, three cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of sumac, a little black pepper, a tablespoon of lemon juice, a cup of canola oil, and three tablespoons of sunflower seeds pounded in my mortar. It came out great. I used it to flavor some frikadelle (a German style hamburger).Ingredients: ground beef, bread broken into pieces and moistened, chopped onion, egg, and spices. I used salt and pepper, and then added the pesto. Form patties, and fry them up. I added mushrooms and onions to the pan.

    If you do cover your plants, do not use blankets. Row covers are a light weight material that breathes and still lets the sun shine down on my plants. Blankets may protect from the freeze, but they harm the plants over time. Their weight can crush down on the plant, while preventing light and air from reaching them.

3 Responses to “Should I Protect My Plants from a Freeze?”

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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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