K-State Research and Extension News
October 28, 2010
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Some Vegetable Plants Can Withstand Frosty Temperatures

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Weather extremes can make growing vegetables in America’s heartland a challenge. But, the growing season can be much longer than novice gardeners might expect.

A mild fall, such as that seen in 2010, can keep warm-season plants (tomatoes, peppers, beans) going well into October. For the garden as a whole, however, harvest season won’t end until the ground itself starts to freeze.

Semi-hardy crops, for example, can take a light frost. They’re damaged when temperatures drop into the mid to upper 20s F. Covering them when cold weather threatens, however, can extend their harvest season for a while. In Kansas, the semi-hardy garden vegetables include beets, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, collards, Bibb lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard, Irish potatoes, radishes and spinach.

Hardy plants can withstand more cold. They’re finally damaged when temperatures drop into the low 20s F. These stalwart crops include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and turnips.

Even after frost has damaged or killed plants’ leaves, gardeners can apply a layer of mulch and store certain root crops in the ground. Then, as needed, they can harvest beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips until the soil starts to freeze in late November or December.

After that, if they plan and prepare for the next year’s crops during winter, central U.S. gardeners can start planting vegetables in March and, with luck, have their first asparagus harvest in early April.

K-State Research and Extension’s new 76-page, four-color “Kansas Garden Guide” can help in that planning. It’s available on the Web at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/hort2/s51.pdf. Plus, local Kansas county Extension offices can help gardeners buy the actual publication.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Kathleen Ward
K-State Research & Extension News

Ward Upham is at 785-532-1438