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overwintering Overwintering in Raised Bed

So I started my first raised bed garden earlier this year. Multiple mistakes were made and my plants didn't get as big as they could have, but I got enough peppers for a few hot sauces.

Now I need to overwinter them. I should have posted this and started more a while back, but work has been extremely taxing for the last few months, so I would extremely appreciate no one mention prior mistakes for timing, even in kindness. I am fully aware and don't need the added stress of being reminded of mistakes already made. "What I can do next year" can be addressed next year. I need to know what I can do now.

We had our first frost this week which came as a surprise and I didn't have time to pick the peppers. Fortunately, I managed to get my temporary-greenhouse covers over them, so I think I may have saved the plants, but the peppers wound up a little soft after the freeze.
I need to figure out what I can do to save the plants. Overwintering indoors isn't really an option for me due to lack of space, which is why I'm posting. I couldn't find anything that would address my specific situation.
At best I might be able to bring like four of the plants indoors if I tell my wife her basil, cilantro, and strawberries are going to have to go; the peppers would survive better (or, rather, the basil and cilantro will be easier to start again next year).

I just don't have space in a safe location, between dog, cat, and toddler for more than a couple of plants.

I live in Central Mississippi near Jackson, which is either zone 8b or 7a depending on the map I look at. We haven't gotten below 20F yet, and my plants didn't get below freezing without the greenhouse up.
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Can I save them this winter, or should I cut my losses and expect to be planting new ones in the spring? Pick a few that could survive and rescue a couple of them in the space I do have?
Should I prune them and hope for the best?
 

PaulG

Extreme Member
Awesome greenhouse! What kind of material is that?
How cold can it provide protection for the plants?
 
I'd give them a chance to see what they are going to do.
Pick the ripe pods now, and even ones partially ripe, they
will ripen up in a bag with a banana or on a sunny window
sill. You could also hang a few branches in a garage or
something and let them color up there.
 
Prune off any growth that looks bad. As long as you have
the greenhouse up, you might as well let things carry on
as long as possible.
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
I'd strongly consider pulling them and starting again. Once damaged by the freeze, the plants will be more susceptible to disease and, depending on the type of disease, it can get into your soil and be an issue in future seasons.  Newly started plants next year - given what you've learned about growing peppers in your area - should do at least as well as these might do if they managed somehow to survive and remain healthy.  Even though peppers may survive lower temperatures, they aren't adapted to grow at such temperatures and it can stress the plant greatly - especially annuum, chinense, and frutescens varieties.
 
If you decide to try to keep them, to my thinking damage control might include cutting off dead, dying, and tender foliage, which would likely be more susceptible to disease.  Also, mulching, and doing what you can to keep the protected area warm.  Your structures would definitely keep them dry, which is beneficial in colder conditions.   But as tylerdodd points out, I think the temps you're contemplating will likely put an end to them.
 
Something else to consider, if you want to have a couple plants over the winter and a head start on next season, is you can start a couple new ones inside under a light.  You're not bringing any pest, health, or disease issues inside that way.  I like to do that or even bring in a couple from outside, provided they haven't been damaged yet by the cold and I clean them up really well so I don't end up with an aphid party.
 
Anyway, good luck.  Your growing setup looks awesome!
 
Incidentally I've overwintered frost sensitive cacti in a makeshift greenhouse in zone 6a by having hutch with 2 rabbits in the greenhouse. That was the only heat source aside from sunlight and it worked well.

Before I tried the rabbits I had used large containers of water with heavy duty aquarium heaters.

As for the plants I would try to overwinter them as is. It might not work but it will get you some good Capsicum XP.

It would not be a bad idea to start a few seedlings right now under lights just in case as well.

Canedog's advice and knowledge are extremely impressive and it wouldn't be unwise to make good use of them.
 
PaulG said:
Awesome greenhouse! What kind of material is that?
How cold can it provide protection for the plants?
 
I'd give them a chance to see what they are going to do.
Pick the ripe pods now, and even ones partially ripe, they
will ripen up in a bag with a banana or on a sunny window
sill. You could also hang a few branches in a garage or
something and let them color up there.
 
Prune off any growth that looks bad. As long as you have
the greenhouse up, you might as well let things carry on
as long as possible.
 The material is just regular old visqueen from home depot, or polyurethane basically. Nothing I want to use long-term because it will break down eventually, but it'll last a couple of months until things stop being so cold. I painted the PVC because apparently bare PVC and poly sheeting don't mix well.

Based on the state of what I had the other day, I doubt I'm getting any new growth.
 
Max Nihil said:
Incidentally I've overwintered frost sensitive cacti in a makeshift greenhouse in zone 6a by having hutch with 2 rabbits in the greenhouse. That was the only heat source aside from sunlight and it worked well.

Before I tried the rabbits I had used large containers of water with heavy duty aquarium heaters.

As for the plants I would try to overwinter them as is. It might not work but it will get you some good Capsicum XP.

It would not be a bad idea to start a few seedlings right now under lights just in case as well.

Canedog's advice and knowledge are extremely impressive and it wouldn't be unwise to make good use of them.
So, hope for the best and plan for the worst.
 
CaneDog said:
I'd strongly consider pulling them and starting again. Once damaged by the freeze, the plants will be more susceptible to disease and, depending on the type of disease, it can get into your soil and be an issue in future seasons.  Newly started plants next year - given what you've learned about growing peppers in your area - should do at least as well as these might do if they managed somehow to survive and remain healthy.  Even though peppers may survive lower temperatures, they aren't adapted to grow at such temperatures and it can stress the plant greatly - especially annuum, chinense, and frutescens varieties.
 
If you decide to try to keep them, to my thinking damage control might include cutting off dead, dying, and tender foliage, which would likely be more susceptible to disease.  Also, mulching, and doing what you can to keep the protected area warm.  Your structures would definitely keep them dry, which is beneficial in colder conditions.   But as tylerdodd points out, I think the temps you're contemplating will likely put an end to them.
 
Something else to consider, if you want to have a couple plants over the winter and a head start on next season, is you can start a couple new ones inside under a light.  You're not bringing any pest, health, or disease issues inside that way.  I like to do that or even bring in a couple from outside, provided they haven't been damaged yet by the cold and I clean them up really well so I don't end up with an aphid party.
 
Anyway, good luck.  Your growing setup looks awesome!
Thanks. I was kind of worried about that.

I have grow-lights and everything needed for starting out indoors with new plants, and I can probably reduce how much I grow indoors on my own next year by buying pre-grown plants, and focus on growing superhots myself, let big stores worry about the more common varieties.
 
Alright. So, as expected, didn't work out well. Inexperienced as I am, while I don't know for certain that these plants aren't coming back next year, being able to bend the stems and having them feel weak and hollow makes me think I'm starting over from ground-zero.
dead plants.jpg


Also, those spots look like I probably have a mold problem. Okay, I know if I have a mold problem.

So, unless someone tells me today that I can save these puppies, I'm going to be digging them all up so I can get them in the trash tomorrow. That much mold on them, I don't want to compost them. Sounds like a bad idea to me.

But how much of the raised bed mix do I need to get rid of? I have back issues and really don't want to be doing more than I need to.
 
I don't think the mold, in itself, is a problem.
 
I admire your industriousness in throwing together a green house, but it might be creating more problems than it's solving.
 
It might be kind-of damp in there which is promoting some mold growth (which I'm still not sure is a big problem itself).
 
But I don't think you'll protect your plants sufficiently from a freeze at night without heating the greenhouse.
 
On the flip side, you'll have intermittently sunny days which will drive the temperature inside the greenhouse up over 100 degrees.
 
Especially in late February and March, you'll begin to have days that will cook everything inside.
 
Down here in Mobile, the few people I know that have small personal greenhouses need to heat them in the winter.  And they also need some system (either manual or automated) to keep them from getting too hot even as early as February.
 
I hate to say this, because I can see you put a lot of work into building that greenhouse, but it might be best just to pull that visqueen off start planning for a new crop next year once the lows at night get into the 50s.
 
The structure may come in handy later on in the year to support some shade cloth.
 
CaneDog said:
Yep, I'd dig them out as dead, too.  Myself, I probably wouldn't go so far as to replace the soil unless I'd seen some significant issue while the plants were still alive and green.  
Only problem I had was that a few were too close, so some were robbing space from others. Two of my plants got really stunted, so I'm going to give them more space and make the beds a bit deeper.
 
DontPanic said:
I don't think the mold, in itself, is a problem.
 
I admire your industriousness in throwing together a green house, but it might be creating more problems than it's solving.
 
It might be kind-of damp in there which is promoting some mold growth (which I'm still not sure is a big problem itself).
 
But I don't think you'll protect your plants sufficiently from a freeze at night without heating the greenhouse.
 
On the flip side, you'll have intermittently sunny days which will drive the temperature inside the greenhouse up over 100 degrees.
 
Especially in late February and March, you'll begin to have days that will cook everything inside.
 
Down here in Mobile, the few people I know that have small personal greenhouses need to heat them in the winter.  And they also need some system (either manual or automated) to keep them from getting too hot even as early as February.
 
I hate to say this, because I can see you put a lot of work into building that greenhouse, but it might be best just to pull that visqueen off start planning for a new crop next year once the lows at night get into the 50s.
 
The structure may come in handy later on in the year to support some shade cloth.
I didn't think about using it for shade cloth, that would be handy in July & July.

It's really annoying because we only had about one week of temps cold enough to kill the plants; they're good and dead now. I started pulling them up today, and most of the greenhouse is down now. Being made of PVC and Visqueen it didn't take much to start pulling it apart.

A few still have some amount of green left in the main stalk, but I've already got another starter kit I'm going to germinate this weekend.
 
 
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