Q: My cabbage and lettuce crops are looking great even though we have had colder than normal weather. What range can they stand before being frozen out? Robert Hobgood, Cartersville
A: It is tough to predict how cold temperatures will affect vegetables. Much depends on how the plants were preconditioned. For example, if broccoli has been growing in warm conditions and temperatures drop below 22 degrees, it will probably be killed. If these same broccoli plants had experienced cool weather for a week or two, they would probably survive the sudden cold.
Temperatures of 26-31 degrees may burn the foliage but will not kill broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, and turnip. The real cold weather champs are beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, kale, parsley, and spinach. They can tolerate short periods below 20 degrees. Interestingly, purple-leaved varieties of vegetables tolerate cold better than their green-leaved counterparts.
Q: I recently received small trees from the Arbor Day Foundation (river birch, an assortment of maples, dogwood, and an oak). Is it too late to put them in the ground this year? Would I be better off to pot them until early spring? Brett Keeling, email
A: Garden experts are so adamant about the benefits of fall planting that we forget to say other planting times could also work. There is no harm in planting your trees now. For large trees, such as you would find in a nursery, fall planting is much preferred. But for small trees, fall or winter planting is just fine.
Even though they are small, you must still provide them with a large area of softened soil (minimum four feet in all directions) for the roots to expand into during the next few years. Read the label on each tree to determine how tall and wide it will grow. I hope you have a large property because trees like this will take up a lot of room at maturity. If you can’t fit them all in, you could offer them to friends and neighbors.
Q: Can I use paint to make my bermuda lawn green in winter? Andy Mazer, Atlanta
A: It is possible … as long as you don’t set your expectations too high. There are several kinds of products used to color turf, including paints, pigments and dyes. Each one can change brown grass into some shade of green but the color will not look like the green turf of a summertime bermuda lawn. Depending on the product, the color could be light green, olive green, or blue-green. Patches of weeds will not show color the same as grass blades. Application can be done with a garden sprayer but you have to be careful to spray the colorant evenly and not get it on your sidewalk or other nearby surfaces. In my view, painting your winter lawn is not worth the trouble.
Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.