Hard and Soft Freezes, what they mean for your garden

Weather

BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — As Fall continues on, the risk of a frost or freeze grows across southern West Virginia, keeping those with a green thumb on their toes to protect their sensitive plants. On average the highest elevations of Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties see a freeze by the end of September. While nearly the rest of the area sees their first freeze during the first third of October.

Average first frost/freeze dates for southern West Virginia based on 1981-2010 climate ‘normals’

A “freeze” is an all-encompassing term for several different scenarios. Generally, it involves temperatures dropping below 32F, or the “freezing mark”, during which frost can develop but isn’t necessary too. The difference, especially when talking about plant life is the difference between a soft and a hard freeze.

Some plants can survive a soft freeze, such as beets, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and peas which are all cool-season crops according to WVU Extension Services. Although, some level of protection such as covering the crops ahead of an expected soft freeze will greatly improve their chances of survival. Warm-season crops, which include watermelons, cantaloupes, peppers, eggplant, and certain varieties of squash won’t survive even a soft freeze. For a hard freeze, even the hardiest of plants will struggle to survive this will in most cases fully end the growing season for an area. For a full list of cool and warm season crops, you can visit the WVU Extension Services website.

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