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Garden in the City Extra: How To Protect Your Plants in a Freeze Warning

By Patty Wetli | October 16, 2015 4:01pm
 Temps are expected to dip near freezing tonight. Take steps now to protect your plants, like covering them with sheets.
Temps are expected to dip near freezing tonight. Take steps now to protect your plants, like covering them with sheets.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — With temperatures expected to dip near freezing Friday night, Chicagoans will be reaching for their sweaters and blankets. 

Grab an extra one for your garden.

If, like us, you still have productive plants in the ground, you'll want to protect your most vulnerable crops from the cold, particularly because the mercury is expected to rebound next week.

Instead of pulling up tomatoes, peppers and beans that still have a shot at providing ripe fruit, cover the plants with blankets, sheets and/or tarps. Yes, you'll feel and look stupid. Get over it.

As the temperatures rise tomorrow, remove the coverings.

If you don't want to chance things, harvest all the remaining fruit, ripe or not.

No need to worry yet about cabbages, arugula, endive, chard or lettuce. They're tolerant of chillier temperatures in the upper 20s.

Then there's the group of plants that actually thrive in the cold: carrots, leeks, chives, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts. They'll be fine for several weeks still.

Here's a handy guide we found that will help you decide when to call it quits on certain crops.

A freeze warning is in effect for Cook County from 11 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday.

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