The Weather


A Garden by Firelight

A Garden by Firelight


Posted on Oct 27, 2016 | 0 comments

Autumn means the nights are longer and chillier, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be filled with light. Don’t shoo your garden parties inside when you can enjoy the crisp fall evening by the warm brightness of firelight.

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(Note: This is Part 3 in a series. For more info on this topic be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2).

If your problem is not too much rain, but too little, again we can look to nature for solutions. In nature you don’t see lush tropical plants trying to grow in the desert. Rather, the flora follows the climate, with plants growing only as full and lush as the local water sources allow. We can learn from nature’s wisdom by adapting our gardens to suit our climate and by making good use of every raindrop the sky gives us! We can mimic the water cycle by carefully conserving and re-using our water supplies. We can mimic deserts and prairies by landscaping with drought-tolerant native species rather than “thirsty” turfgrass and ornamentals. And for those of us that are really ambitious, we can mimic the way that forest landscapes hold onto rain by utilizing techniques like Hugelkultur and swales.

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One of the numerous negative ecological effects of urban development is a higher rate of soil erosion. Forests naturally hold on to soil with their roots. Trees slow the fall of raindrops to keep them from disrupting the soil. The natural bumps and hillocks in the landscape break up the flow of water, giving it more opportunity to be absorbed by plant roots and filtered through the soil before it winds its way into creeks, streams, and rivers. These natural soil-defense mechanisms do not exist in developed land, where rain falls on rooftops, asphalt, and flat lawns covered in relatively sparse, shallow-rooted plants. All this means that on developed land, wind and rain carries off much more top soil, dumping it into storm drains and into the water table. This not only degrades the soil quality, but also dumps soil into the local water supply, along with oils and often-toxic pollutants.

For the sustained health of your garden and your community, you should try and minimize erosion and runoff as much as possible with careful garden design. Where downspouts empty onto your yard or where storm waters flow through it, you should take every effort to absorb and filter this water. A well-designed garden will capture water effectively, keeping plant roots moist much longer while also holding on to the soil’s nutrients and keeping pollution out of the local water table.

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Gardeners have a love/hate relationship with winter. The cold is one of the biggest killers of plants, but at the same time many plants have a chilling requirement—having adapted to a cold climate, they now require a certain length of wintry conditions to allow them to undergo the mysterious process of vernalization. 

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Frost on plants

We’ve all seen it–one quick frost and all of your beautiful flowers and plants turn to green mush. Of course, the obvious answer is to bring them inside, but where do you put them? How much light do they need? How much water do they need? These things will all change when you move your plants to a different environment, and the shock of the change may be as damaging as the cold.

Here are a few ideas to help tender plants and gardeners survive the cold together:

  1. First, make sure your plants are in loose, sandy soil or a potting mix, and your pot has holes in the bottom. If the moisture can’t drain off  your plant the roots will surely rot.
  2. Next, Find a nice sunny spot in your home, preferably a south-facing window. Artificial light will work, but use florescent bulbs. The heat from incandescent bulbs will dry your plant out very quickly.
  3. Make sure the temperature stays above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, anything lower than that and you might as well have left them to the elements. Also, don’t sit your container plants too close to cold windows.
  4. Avoid drafty places near vents or frequently opened doors–your plants will dry out quickly. For most tender plants, the soil should be moist but not wet. Check your soil’s moisture daily.
  5. If you have potted tuberous plants that grow from bulbs or rhizomes like caladiums, tulips or dahlias, you can store those pots inside in a dark cool place, like a closet or cabinet.

Happy Gardening!

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Gardening In A Drought

Drought can be one of the most disappointing things to happen to a gardener. You work all year long, growing beautiful plants, and your yard looks exactly how you want it to look. All of it can be taken away in just a few dry weeks in August. There are a few things you can do to give your garden the best chance of pulling through.

  1. When it starts to get dry cut back on the fertilizer or stop completely.
    Your plants do not need to be trying to grow right now, they need to be focusing on survival. Fertilizer stimulates growth and moisture intake.
  2. Aerate your soil in the spring.
    This will allow roots to access moisture and nutrients more readily, giving your plants a big jump on the drier months to come.
  3. Water longer but less frequently.
    Water deep into the soil, train your roots to grow down to where the soil holds moisture. Shallow root systems will dry out very quickly.
  4. Water in the morning.
    Water your garden before 9 am, earlier if you can manage. Later in the day your moisture is more likely to evaporate before your plants have a chance to soak it up.

If you live in an area that is prone to dry weather take a look at Wayside Gardens’ diverse line of drought tolerant plants. You may also want to check your local nursery for native plants that are more adept in your climate.

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