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One of the benefits of growing vegetables in zone 9 is that we are able to grow vegetables all year long.  

However, despite our relatively mild winters, warm-season vegetables such as  peppers and tomatoes can’t handle temperatures when they dip below freezing.  So just before freezing temperatures hit, I run out to the garden and pick off all our tomatoes and peppers before pulling out the plants.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing this – I’ve done it for years.


I allow my green tomatoes to ripen indoors – click here to see how.


I then dice my green peppers, place them in a freezer bag and keep them in the freezer where I can use them whenever I make my kid’s favorite Mexican rice for dinner.

A few years ago, I decided to try to overwinter my tomato and pepper plants instead of pulling them out. 


This is what my tomatoes looked like with no frost protection.  That was no surprise.

But the next year, I decided to protect my tomatoes & peppers by covering them with old sheets when temperatures dipped below 32 degrees.  

I even went one step further and hung an outdoor light underneath the sheets.  

To my surprise, both my tomato and pepper plants came through the winter just fine, with a small amount of frost damage, and I had an early start to the growing season.

It was a lot of work though – having to cover them and uncover them whenever temperatures dipped below freezing.

Also, that winter was a relatively mild one and temperatures never strayed below the upper 20’s.  However, we do occasionally experience temperatures that dip in to the low 20’s and in that case, protection or not, the peppers and tomatoes would most likely die whether or not they were protected.

So, do I still try to overwinter my peppers and tomatoes?  

The answer is “yes”and “no”.


I do throw sheets over my peppers, but not my tomatoes.  The reason is that tomatoes are slightly more sensitive to the cold.

If we were to experience temperatures in the low 20’s, my 2-year old pepper plants would most likely not survive.  But, that is what it is like to grow vegetables – you try your best, but sometimes it’s not enough.

**Have you ever successfully overwintered a warm-season vegetable?**

There are few types of vegetables that don’t always survive winter in my zone 9a garden without protection when temperatures dip below freezing.  


In the past, I have protected my San Marzano tomato plants with success by covering them completely with frost cloth.


This year, I decided to protect my bell pepper plants.  The reason was because they were producing so well up until December and I didn’t want to have to wait a long time for new peppers

I believe I’ve told you before that patience isn’t my strong suit.

Of course, this was the winter when we broke records with temps in the low 20’s for five days in a row.  I wasn’t sure that my peppers would survive, even with protection.

The upper leaves did suffer frost damage and had to be cut back. 

I wasn’t sure if the base would form new leaves.  I have been checking every week now that the temperatures are warming up.

Guess what I saw last week?

Pepper plant planted among garlic and nasturtiums.
There are new leaves growing from my pepper plant!  I can hardly believe that it made it through the coldest winter we have had in over 30 years.

How about you?

What warm-season vegetables have you been able to over-winter?