Cover the fall vegetable garden? It depends

Story provided By KIKI FONTENOT LSU AgCenter horticulturist

BATON ROUGE — November weather in Louisiana can be extremely variable. One day we are wearing flip flops and T-shirts; the next, temperatures are dipping into the 30s.
Avid vegetable gardeners welcome cooler weather because with it comes harvests of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, beets, radishes, carrots and many more cool-season crops.
But what about the weather? Beets, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage and lettuce will tolerate light frosts. Whereas broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard and mustard greens, peas, radish, spinach, onions and turnip crops will tolerate a hard frost.
The LSU AgCenter does not generally recommend covering these crops during a light freeze or when night temperatures drop into the 30s for only a few hours at a time. But you can follow some good practices to protect your fall vegetable garden.
—Mulch perennial vegetables like asparagus. Any mulch will work, but leaves and pine straw are preferred materials.
—Water plants if a frost or freeze is expected. Drought-stressed plants will not tolerate harsh environmental conditions as well as healthy, well-watered and fertilized plants.

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