Seven Top Tips For Gardening In Extreme Weather

by Daisy

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Remember from Psych 101 the study about babies and Object Permanence? How before a certain age infants can’t grasp the concept that once something disappears it isn’t necessarily gone forever?

I have a form of that when it comes to gardening: After a storm/drought/wind/hail/freeze I think it’s never going to happen again.

On a beautiful sunny day I can’t foresee or imagine any other conditions. “The storm has cleared? Well, that’ll never happen again. Do de do do!”

Apparently my brain thinks:

It’s always going to be warm and sunny (but not hot and drought-y).

There will always be sufficient rainfall (but no flood conditions).

The gentle breeze will never turn into a gale force wind.

This spring/fall warmth will never freeze over.

Optimism? Maybe.

Idiocy? Definitely.

No matter how often I get tricked, I keep forgetting the extremes.

This is not to say I haven’t forced my adult brain center to override (sometimes) this ridiculous memory glitch–I can and do make allowances for reality, but while I’m doing it I don’t think it’s really necessary. But it always is.

Here are a few of the things the part of my brain that IS attached to the real world does to protect my garden from the broken, ditsy part of my brain:

1. Plant only in raised beds.

This doesn’t have to mean you have a physical box around the soil, but elevate the soil in hills or mounds above the surrounding soil level. Your plants will stay above the level of those horrific spring monsoons (that I don’t really believe in but happen all the time anyway).

2. Use the hugelkultur method beneath your beds to keep a moist reservoir under your plants to guard against drought and minimize the amount of supplementary watering you’ll have to do. Also consider other permaculture water-holding techniques such as berms and water gardens.

3. Stake newly transplanted trees for at least the first couple of years. This isn’t recommended for trees you planted as small saplings, but for larger transplants, it helps prevent this:


4. Wait until after the first/last frost days in your area to get started planting. Really. It is so hard, but do it anyway.

5. Plant your most prized babies in pots so you can move them to a protected area when storms/freezes are in the forecast. Just don’t forget to water them.

6. Stake vegetative plants (tomatoes, peppers, etc.) with the most substantial staking system you can devise. They always need it, and don’t let me tell you otherwise.

7. If it’s too sensitive/particular/susceptible to insects and disease and temperature variation, etc., either don’t plant it or be prepared to lose it with equanimity.

There have been two extremely windy storms in the past several days. So far a plum tree has gone over twice. I staked it up on one side after the first time. Last night it stormed again and now it’s fallen the other direction. So stake it up on all sides. Did I think wind only blows in one direction? What is wrong with me?

Don’t answer that.




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