Garden Microclimates: Shrug Off Your Growing Zone

 

Microclimate
Photo from GrowVeg.com

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When I worked as a commercial gardener, one of the most interesting things I learned about was the influence of microclimates. Even though all the gardens I maintained were within 30 miles of each other, I soon discovered that what grew well in one garden was no sure indicator of what could be persuaded to thrive in another — even when the other garden was right next door! Conventional wisdom states that what a gardener can grow is limited by the USDA Hardiness Zone they’re gardening in, but I’ve found that isn’t the whole truth. Another important factor should also be taken into consideration: every garden’s unique microclimates.

Season extenders, such as row covers, are invaluable for warming up soil and protecting crops from the elements, but smart gardeners can deploy many more powerful techniques. By becoming aware of and manipulating the microclimates that make up your plot, you can improve yields and successfully grow crops that are on the borderline of what’s feasible in your region.

Microclimate
A fan-trained fruit tree grows against a wall, a heat sink that provides additional warmth. Photo from GrowVeg.com

Identify Your Microclimates

To exploit the microclimates in any garden, you’ll first need to learn exactly what they are. This often-overlooked task shouldn’t be rushed; it’s best done at several points during the year to gain a complete picture of how your garden changes through the seasons.

First, ask yourself four questions:

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