COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The planting season is lively throughout the Midlands this winter.
According to Sal Sharpe, owner of Sal’s Ol ‘Timey Feed & Seed in Columbia, your garden is safe even when the temperature drops below freezing.
Sharpe said one of the most common misconceptions is that a frost will damage winter crops. She said, however, that this is not the case because a frost in South Carolina is nothing like a frost in the Northeast.
To better understand why winter crops can thrive in colder weather, it is important to understand the difference between a freeze and a frost, Sharpe said.
“A freeze is a hard freeze where the ground actually freezes,” she said. “So if you stick your hand in there, it’s actually frozen. We do not get much of that in South Carolina. We get a lot of frost, especially here in the Midlands. ”
Frost is much more common and can occur without freezing.
Because temperatures fluctuate so much, they do not harm winter crops, even when they fall below freezing. The soil below has kept its heat for the plants in these cases, Sharpe said.
“Our soil freezes very, very rarely,” she said. “For the earth to freeze, it must be cold during the day and at night. So if we freeze and it comes up to 70 again, the earth has not lost its temperature. “
Sharpe compares temperature changes to turning an oven on and off. Most crops in cold weather can survive even 10 degree weather.
“Now bring your dogs in, take the kids in, collect the kids, but your plants, if it comes down to 15 in a few hours, won’t hurt,” she said.
Among the crops you can harvest all winter are lettuce, arugula, cabbage, kale, collards, turnips, radishes, rutabaga and onions. Not only does a slight frost not harm them, some thrive and taste sweeter after one.
“Lettuce, collards, turnips, they taste so much better when the frost hits,” she said.
This is because frost causes starch to turn into sugar in the crops.
According to Sharpe, now is a “perfect time” to plant some strawberries in your garden. If you plant them now, they will probably be ready to harvest in the second week of February, when the days get longer, she said.
Sharpe said that when temperatures hit the 70s in winter like this week, it puts extra stress on crops in cold weather.
“It’s really hard for them,” she said. “It’s cold weather crops. You have to water them a little extra if it’s going up to 78 degrees. This whole week will be much warmer, so be sure to keep all the water really well and if you could put a little bit of shade cloth on it , it would help a lot. ”
There are two good things about winter crops, Sharpe said.
“Number one, no mistake,” she said. “And number two, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. So you can plant onions and cut the tops, use them as chives in your baked potatoes, and every three weeks they come back. Also with lettuce, turnips, collards, cabbage, broccoli. “
Data released this month from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the price of fruits and vegetables in grocery stores nationwide has risen four percent in the past year. Sharpe said that not only could you save some money by harvesting your own fruits and vegetables, but it is also better for you.
“Growing your own vegetables is so much healthier,” she said. “And getting out here in the air, breathing in the lovely air, getting your vitamin D, getting out of the house, exercising, is so beneficial on so many levels.”
Sal’s is typically open for business on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can drop by on Tuesday 28 December at 11.30 – 17.00. They are closed during the New Year holidays.
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