Snow and gardens are not known for being compatible. Snow is a symptom of freezing temperatures, a known gardening inhibitor. However, a snowy winter does not mean a gardenless winter.
There are vegetables and flowers that prefer colder seasons and will grow in snow. Flowering plants are especially beautiful because they add color to the two-dimensional palate of winter.
While there are disadvantages, gardeners with the correct plants and knowledge can harness the power of snow.
Contrary to the obvious perception, snow can be a benefit to your garden. Even the hardiest garden plants can’t stand hard frosts or frozen ground. When a freeze occurs, root systems can be compromised and plant cells can freeze until they burst.
Without protection, plants will quickly turn black and wither in the face of temperatures 32˚F and lower. Winter also brings cold winds, which whisk away nutrients and moisture. Fortunately, Mother Nature provides a natural insulator: snow.
Gardens don’t handle rapid variations in temperature well, and evening out those transitions is a helpful defense. A layer of snow insulates the plants and ground from radical drops in temperature. It also prevents moisture from escaping. Also, the insulated “warm” soil melts ground-level snow, feeding the plants.
Disadvantages of Snow
Buildups of snow are heavy and too much will weigh the plants down, snapping stems or breaking leaves off. Snow timing can be a critical factor as well. Plant growth syncs with the changing seasons.
When temperatures warm, the plants begin the process of waking up. However, if some late snow comes through during this process, then it might do more harm than help (remember, plants do not likely rapid variations in temperature).
Lastly, snow conceals the presence of garden pests like moles and voles. While everything looks calm on the surface, pests are under the snow, feasting on your roots and stems.
Vegetables and Other Plants That Can Grow in the Snow
Spinach: It may not produce leaves during snowfall, but the plant will bear the snow and continue to grow. Varietals such as Savoy do well and can be identified by their wrinkled leaves.
Collards: Blue Max varietals can survive in 0˚F, making collards some of the most freeze-tolerant plants there are.
Turnips: Through the miracle of science, turnip flavors convert from spicy to sweet during the snowy months. Sugar is a natural anti-freeze, so turnips produces more of it to survive temperatures down to 10˚F. Hakurei varietals are known for being hardy and simply need insulation, which may be provided by the snow.
Camellia: An evergreen plant, the camellia brightly blooms from fall to spring. As long as they are protected from heavy winds and have access to the sun, they will grow brightly through the snow.
Firethorn: Green leaves with orange/yellow berries, the firethorn is a beautiful addition to a snowy garden. When spring arrives, white flowers will bloom from them as well, ensuring a dash of white remains even after the snow leaves.
It’s important to note that all plants and vegetables can use some assistance. Just because they can survive through cold weather and snow doesn’t mean they have to.
Mulching, ground-level irrigation, and greenhouses greatly increase your garden’s growing power during cold seasons, and they can be implemented quickly and affordably.
Snow on the ground doesn’t mean your garden is done for the season. It means a new rotation of plants and vegetables are ready to be planted and a new gardening strategy is ready to begin.
Read More: 3 Simple Ways to Winterize Your Grow Room