Friday, April 27, 2012

Gardening With Climate Change: Summer in February and Snow in April

With highs in the 80s in February, a two month drought, and April snow showers, how do you insure that there are May flowers?
First of all, you'll need to review the USDA's new Plant Hardiness Zone Map:
Remember, these changes in range indicate hanges in climate much more complex than the temperature increases.  While the new hardiness zones mean Connecticut gardeners can plant some warmer climate plants, it also means that the plants must be tolerant of extreme weather.
Visit the interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map here.
As we've already seen in the month of April, climate change seems to take the form of long dry periods broken up by a few storms that produce a lot of precipitation - purchasing and installing a rain barrel can capture this excess precipitation for use during extended dry periods.  There are countless models of rain barrels,you can probably get them at your local garden center (including Home Depot) and they can be ordered online.
Organic matter like compost holds more moisture for longer periods of time, making it an ideal soil additive to fix moisture around your plants.  Plants spaced further apart are able to spread their roots more to seek out water in the soil.  Choose more drought resistant plants, and group plants that will require more water close together, so you only need to water a small area of your yard at a time.  Consider the microclimates in your yard - does water collect in a certain area of your yard? Put more water thirsty plants near these moist regions.
While drought is an issue, there are also some frost warnings for Connecticut tonight - you'll need to get your burlap/cloth/plastic/other plant coverings out!

This is a great information sheet for Connecticut Gardeners about how to plant for droughts and lists of drought-resistant plants:

I also like this article from the UK about how gardens can mitigate some of the affects of climate change:

Have a wonderful weekend,

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