Thursday, January 13, 2011


We DO live in Northern New England! We should expect to see snow in the winter. I know, this time it is a bit more than we bargained for, but here we are.
How much did you get? The storm dumped about 18 inches on top of the 8 or so we already had here in North Haverhill. There's a LOT of snow out there!
What happens in the garden with all this snow? Is it good, or bad for our gardens? It could be both, so lets talk about that a bit. It's mostly good.
One of the bad things is that it could break weaker branches on shrubs and small trees. I often advise people to take a broom, or shovel HANDLE and gently bump the branch you want to clear. That will make the snow cascade off. If it doesn't, stop. You don't want to cause any more damage. Branches can break under a heavy snow load. If it ices up, you could be in trouble.
But, let's talk about the good things.
Snow definitely insulates and protects the plants. That's why eskimos live in snow houses. It's warm in there. It also protects the ground from the repeated freezing and thawing that can play havoc with roots, bulbs and even seeds.
When the snow melts, it usually melts slowly, releasing liquid gently into the ground. This is good for the plants that are doing without hydration all winter long.
When you shovel, you can put the excess snow on plants that are living in sheltered places (like under the eaves-as long as you don't get too close to the house with the snow. You don't want water to become an issue inside as it melts.)
If you have a spot in the garden that becomes a mud-puddle, or quagmire in the spring and summer, avoid putting excess snow there.
Often we think that a plant is failing, or dying because it is suffering from the cold. Most of the time that is not the case. What does happen is that the plant, just like us, breathes. It, however, breathes through it's leaves. As it does that, it is losing moisture. So if this moisture is allowed to leave the plant without it getting any rehydration, the plant dries out. A plant needs to be sheltered from wind because the wind can speed up that drying process. This is why the snow is good. It helps by hydrating the plant all winter. This wind is also why gardeners often shield their shrubs with burlap.
If you get a warm spell, it is always helpful to give a shrub a good long drink. I realize that's not always possible because the hose is put away, and who needs the possibility of an icy spot. But, it does show you that if there had been snow under that shrub, it would have melted during the thaw and given the plant a drink.
So, don't worry about snow in the garden. It's mostly a very good thing!


At January 27, 2011, Anonymous Victoria said...

I would not worry about the snow too much, most plants tolerate winters well and bloom again just fine in the spring, it's natures way. :)

At January 27, 2011, Blogger North Country Maturing Gardener said...

Nope! I never worry about the snow! As I said, it's mostly a very good thing!


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