When it comes to gardening and using your green thumb, some people seem to just have ‘it’ and some don’t. Growing up I remember my great-grandfather, a several generations farmer, would always take a nice long walk through his fields and then through his personal garden that he and my great-grandmother had. He talked to his plants as if they spoke back to him. Being so young, I often thought they could. He taught me several tricks for gardening that I have kept with me through the years, and have often come in handy when I grown anything for myself. Where I am from in Northeastern Arkansas we had to prepare our plants to withstand, at times, severally dry summers and bitter cold winters. Although most of the tricks I learned can be used universally all over the United States, some regions face more extremes when it comes to weather. For instance the Northeastern part of the United States (from Pennsylvania and West Virginia all the way up to the Canadian border along the Atlantic.) experience even more intense winters with higher snowfall, more frozen precipitation and severe weather conditions carried inland from the Atlantic.
Ideally to weatherproof your garden you will sit and take the time to research your zones climate, ideal foliage and crops and create a garden system that gives you the best upper hand for year round climate changes. The easiest way to give yourself the best chances is to invest in your garden. With strategic planning you could weatherproof your garden to be relatively low maintenance and able to be sustainable year round, despite initial costs. Underground greenhouses give the best protection from most any elements, no matter what region you may be in. If you are able to install an underground green house you would want to start by choosing the best location to put it. Likely in a slight hillside or terrain incline, making it both easier to install and more resilient. With an underground greenhouse installment you can give a more stable temperature with more insulation. Once you have an ideal location for your greenhouse you would then want to find a way to give it more structure, like digging out enough space to put up a frame in the ground to support to proposed roof for your greenhouse, and with enough planning you can use your roof and it’s natural slope to collect rainwater to store for your plants when rain seems to be neigh, as well as, being more cost effective when it comes to watering your plants. From there, the installation of your greenhouse, you can decide the best places for whichever plants or crops you intend to grow. A ‘green wall’ of herbs or small plants can allow for space saving as well as a beautiful feature. With an underground greenhouse your plants can still receive plenty of sunlight and with adequate features you can also install lights, heat and air, that also depends on what you’re willing to spend. From there most things will be able to be planned accordingly based on what you might grow, although the first chore of finding an ideal location for your greenhouse is the most important to avoid flooding, and damage from elements impacting on your greenhouse. Having your greenhouse in the ground also helps to protect your plants from wind. However, if you cannot afford for a costly installment like an underground greenhouse, especially in the Northeast, there are several other routes to take that can help you to weatherproof your garden. If you have plants that are in containers, like a tree or large plant that is still immature you can give it an advantage of moving it to an above ground assembled greenhouse or by insulating the container it is in by packing mulch around the container. If you have more than one, or several containers, you can find a location that is typically out of the path of wind like along side a house or building. You could also build a small raised bed structure and place all of your plants that are in containers inside of the raised bed and insulate with sand and mulch around them tightly. For plants that aren’t in containers can be protected by what I like to call layering. You can plant stronger trees or foliage as a somewhat barrier for smaller and more vulnerable plants to protect them from the elements. When planting it can help to prepare for anything, starting with the plants you choose. Some plants grow better in different environments and growing plants that are more frail to colder temperatures wouldn’t be ideal to grown in the Northeast and would likely die at the first signs of chill unless given proper care and advantages.
For garden plants that are grown in raised beds or in the ground face some advantages as well as their disadvantages. Raised beds are ideal if you want to get an early start to the growing season because the soil in raised beds warms faster than the soil in the ground, but in the same hand the soil is able to cool faster closer to fall which can mean bad news for plants inside of them. For both grown in raised bed and in soil plants there are several ways to help guard your plants from an early death when fall comes around. Layering the soil with mulch can help to insulate plants and their roots, giving them more longevity throughout the fall. Also combining recycling with gardening you can use larger recycled containers like milk jugs, 5 gallon buckets and other larger items weighted and placed over more delicate plants can protect them from heavy wind, rain and also create more of a micro-climate for your plant, giving it even more protection from the elements.
There are several ways to give yourself an upper hand and prolong your growing season, or even give you the advantage of year round growing and knowledge is key to having everything you can to have to most success.