Things are getting cold out there.
Of course, this is long overdue after the balmy winter so far, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a shock to the system.
In fact, as I head towards my mid-thirties I’m beginning to find the cold and wind a bit of a downer. I used to love this stuff, talking up the joy of a good, cold winter to anyone who would listen. It’s the joy of the seasons, after all.
Now I’m not so sure. I’m troubled by this cold snap that’s forecast. So in an effort to make the adjustment easier, I’ve put together 4 good reasons why we need some cold weather.
Kill off the bugs
The mild weather of 2015 allowed the cabbage white caterpillars to live on into December, and naturally, I presumed that this late in the year my brassicas would be fine. But no, the surviving cabbage whites crept up onto my kale whilst I wasn’t looking and ate the lot.
A cold period helps kill off lots of bugs and pests on the plot, and this isn’t limited to cabbage whites. Fungal diseases like canker are eradicated, as well as slugs and snails and any lasting aphids.
Sweeten the brassicas and parsnips
A number of the brassica family taste much better after a good couple of frosts. This is due to the cold conditions producing sugars within the leaves and creating a sweeter taste. Kale, cavolo nero, and sprouts are a totally different culinary prospect post frost.
Root veg such as parsnips and celeriac turn their starch to sugars in cold conditions, increasing their sweetness too.
Help the strawberries
A sustained period of cold also helps strawberries produce a healthy crop the following summer. The cold strengthens flowering which will bring on a better harvest.
Strawberry plants are tough, hardy little things so don’t worry if they get covered in snow or start to wilt. Take comfort in the fact that the cold weather is in fact helping one of the best summer harvests.
I’m sure there’s some kind of hidden meaning there…
Break up the soil
If you’ve been organised and dug over your beds in Autumn, you’ll be keen for a few decent frosts.
Frost works wonders at breaking up the soil over winter, which improves the structure ready for sowing in spring. This is particularly useful if you’ve got clay soil.
Light the Woodburner
I know it’s not allotment related in the slightest, but you know what, there’s nothing quite like getting the wood burner lit on a freezing cold day.
Bring on those subzero temperatures!