The Q&A Archives: plants and winter freeze

Question: Can you tell me about the winter freeze mechanism and vegetables. It seems that the protection of a basic cold frame does little appreciable to keep the temperature warmer during winter. It does keep the dew off before freezing occurs.

How does the cold frame assist vegetables when a freeze comes, or, is it 99% dependent on getting very hardy varieties?

Thanks for your help.

Answer: Freezing temperatures rupture the cells within the plant tissues. Some plants are not as susceptible to this as others. Cole crops, for instance are not as affected as thin leafed lettuces. When you place plants in a cold frame, the structure itself physically keeps the elements off the plants but the structure also helps trap heat radiated by the soil which can warm the air within the structure a few degrees, which keeps the plants slightly warmer. I plant cold hardy veggies in my cold frame and am able to harvest bok choy, carrots, kale and romaine lettuce in my Seattle area garden. Best wishes with your coldframe.

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