Veggies in snow

Flat-leaf kale in snow

Every season there’ve been hardy veggies left to the cold and snow, and this season, it’s a record quantity, with nearly 2,000′ (610m) of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale that mostly started sizing up just as the farmers’ market finished at the end of October. It seems like a waste, but it’s only a typical garden gamble on the weather (I was trying for an extra, really late crop). The risk was clear back in August, and we didn’t get enough sun to push things along a tiny bit quicker. We did harvest a lot of the Red Russian flat-leaf kale (above), for a good four weeks, and one round of 1-2 lb (450-900g) cabbage (a nice size for a meal for one or two). And there’s been a lot of personal-use picking in November. The rest is a giant farm lab experiment, more exploration of the snow-on-veggies effect

Broccoli in snow

More than the snow, the many nights of extreme cold (-15°C/5°F) that came with it this year really blasted these guys, wilting them and burning leaves and buds. So, none of the crops are too firm or pretty, BUT, they’re still alive: for the most part, there’s good color and texture. The kale, always super-hardy, did the best from a let’s eat some perspective, with good texture and great taste. The broccoli, while a little wilty on the stems and burned on the buds, also tasted great, fresh and flavorful. The cauliflower did the worst, the heads really damaged by the freezing and thawing, too mushy for me to bother with a taste. (Eating raw was fine, but how would this all cook up? We may see…) We’d already reaped most of the filled-out cabbage, so the rest aren’t going to go anywhere from here…

Cauliflower in snow

What’s all this odd information worth? Not much, I guess, I’m not planning on deliberately planting for snow harvests. But checking things out is always fun, no experience goes to waste, and there is at least one advantage to knowing there’s still good eating out there: the laying hens will be feasting on a fabulous greens buffet for a while!

8 thoughts on “Veggies in snow”

  1. I have been reading your blog for a while now and after seeing the pictures of broccoli in snow, wanted to know the best temperature for them. I have some broccoli in my garden that I started from seed, I live in FL and its anwhere from 40-85 degrees during Winter. The broccoli is full grown but hasn’t sprouted yet and was wondering why. Any ideas? Thanks 

  2. Will you be putting any of your late veggies into the freezer, or doing and canning? Making sauerkraut maybe with your cabbages?

    You’d probably end up with a good supply for over the hard winter….love the pics of the snow on the trees! Simply beautiful! We don’t really have any snow yet to speak of…strange, it is usually here by Halloween.



  3. beryl lynn: Broccoli does best in cooler weather 60-70°F. High heat might slow it down, but it’ll eventually produce heads. What’s more likely to happen if it’s really hot is the heads will appear, and quickly bolt, which means, explode into pretty little flowers. Just keep an eye on ’em, and cut as soon as they look good. Broccoli has quite a range of maturity dates, from around 50 days after transplant, to 70 or so. You may have a variety that takes a while…!

    Annie: We haven’t done any canning or freezing this year, just storage stuff. I have winter squash, onions, garlic, sweet potato. And even with the snow we have now, I’m kinda expecting to be able to dig up more carrots and parsnip when we get a freak melt-off in December or January… ;)

    Ashley: Parsnips were amazing around a week ago after a dose of cold! Carrots, too, really sweet.

  4. I love unintentional garden experimentation. My red rock mammoth got snowed under but when I brought in some heads, partly frozen, I was happy to report that slow dethawing in the fridge revealed mostly perfect heads!

  5. Thanks for posting this – it IS really helpful to see what happens when healthy plants get pushed a little farther than usual! We had a little snow here yesterday, and the last of the chard froze in some areas… so I pulled everything up and have been in the kitchen most of the day dealing with it.

    I was thinking about pulling up the remaining Red Russian and Lacinato kales, too, but after seeing this post I think I’m willing to let ’em go a while longer! Since my garden is small, I throw a big tarp over it when the sun goes down, and that has seemed to help during the colder nights.


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