Protecting Your Garden

The news from NOAA lately hasn't done anything to inspire confidence in the future of "normal" weather. Global temperatures rising, our oceans acidifying...it's downright depressing.

Pisgah National Forest, which eats up a huge chunk of the county I live in (Transylvania) is a temperate rain forest. Historically, you could set your watch by the afternoon rainstorms at 3:00pm. In recent years, however, Western North Carolina has been subject to drought just like much of the rest of the country. Hope Janowitz, of New Leaf Garden Market, has recently bemoaned the fact that she could hear thunder all around the nursery, but nary a drop of rain. The same thing has happened here at home--rain on one side of town (very localized) but little to none at our address.

No soil does well without water. Nutrients created at the surface are transported down by insects, microbes...and rain. Plants without a good, deep rainfall at regular intervals suffer from shallow roots--which make them more susceptible to failure in times of drought. The garden assets most needful of water, of course, are turf grass and vegetables, which soak up and convert a great deal of water.

Of course, if you don't have much--or any--lawn, you have a lot less to worry about. And if you have planted with an eye to possible drought conditions, you should be able to get by with less work with the hose. Coneflower are really hard to kill, with lots of visual punch, and they make the birds and bugs happy, too. Another winner is ninebark, which has the lovely characteristic of being able to deal with occasional flooding in addition to drought. Mixing shrubs into your perennial beds to provide some shade can also create happier plants during drought--even full sun plants appreciate a little shade in the hottest part of the day.

But the big necessity for those shrub and perennial beds during periods of drought is mulch. Anything you use that covers the soil in a way that allows water through but discourages evaporation is a Good Thing. Next to the house you might want to use a stone mulch. In a bed of mixed perennials and/or annuals, it is hard to beat the flexibility of a good soil-building bark mulch.

Most of the professional landscapers around here have already put out mulch at the landscapes they maintain. But it's never too late to give your plants an insulating blanket to protect them from high temperatures and reduced rainfall. Pamper your plants today!
The Wild and the...Not

The Wild and the...Not

Right To Life

Right To Life