Plants Dying From Frozen Soil

A few cold weather crops were still alive in our garden as we entered the new year, including bok choi, carrots, and salad greens. The kale and conflowers were also still alive due to the many fall days with above average temperatures we had in 2015.


Then in mid January, the remaining plants began to die. The soil had frozen solid from days where the weather was below or around freezing. The plants’ roots are unable to take in water and nutrients from the soil once the soil freezes. Without water, the plants cannot go through photosynthesis, which is what causes them to die. The plants all started drooping, even the kale with their thick stems.

One weekend, it was above 50 degrees fahrenheit, which thawed the soil enough to harvest the carrots. The cold weather makes carrots sweeter, but if you leave them in the ground too long, they become mushy and eventually decompose. We also harvested any remaining kale and some of the broccoli. Now the only plants that are still alive in the garden are lemon-thyme and broccoli, as well as some of the coneflowers that have not turned brown.

Once the weather warms and spring starts, the perennials will return on their own and we will replant the annuals. However, there is still work for us to do over the winter. We are building a soil moisture sensor, analyzing ozone data, and planning the layout of our garden for next spring.


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