The Christmas cold snap damaged many Carolina gardens. We saw a week of freezing temperatures, and three nights in a row with temperatures in the teens. The coldest weather that we have seen in 5 years.

Only the most hardy plants survived the cold. Many of the less hardy plants now lay dead and rotting in the garden. After a week of warmer weather, it is easy to tell what is bouncing back, and what will not.

In the vegetable garden, we can start cleaning this mess up. Please note, that this only applies to our annual veggies. If you have perennials, shrubs or trees that you think might have freeze damage, don’t touch them until spring. You may be surprised at what comes back, and once you have new growth it will be easier to identify dead limbs for trimming.

In the garden, remove all the plants that have died. The dead plants will attract insects and disease if left in the garden for too long. In the WBTW garden, we lost lettuce, arugula, bok choy, and most of the smaller seedlings. These are not very cold hardy, and we knew that if we had extreme cold that these plants would not make it. It does not get this cold every winter, so I think it is worth it to try to grow these lesser hardy plants. Even the lettuce that was growing in our protected cold frame was killed by the cold.

Other more hardy plants, like mustard, cilantro and peas were also killed by the cold. They will usually survive our cold, and it takes a really cold night to kill these plants. We even had damage to carrots, beets, turnip and kohlrabi. These root vegetables are hard to kill off in the cold since most of the plant is underground. I will inspect these plants carefully and remove the plants that don’t have any green left. If there is still some green on these plants, I will remove the dead leaves and continue to grow them. They will probably bounce back.

All of my hardy winter veggies came through this cold with very little damage. Collard greens may look dead during the cold weather, but they always bounce back… plus the cold makes them sweeter. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic all came through with very little damage. These are always great things to grow in the winter in the Carolinas.

To clean up the garden, I will remove all dead plants, and will remove the dead leaves from damaged plants. This will leave us with empty space in the garden, but don’t worry… we are just a few weeks away from planting early spring veggies in the garden, and that space will not stay empty for long.