By Gail Jacobs
Are you mailboxes overflowing with seed and plant catalogues? I always enjoy browsing new plants and dreaming where I could I possibly put more. This exercise generally gets me in trouble but for those willing to get more than they bargained for read on!
I recently attended a talk that touched on Microclimates. This term is talking about small areas of confined space like caves or your yard not the USA climate zone 5 that Warsaw is a part of. While I do not have a cave in my yard, I think it would be grand to have a home for our local bats! Microclimates are how you may be able to grow a zone 6 plant (a warmer loving plant) in your zone 5 yard. For example, Bears Breeches recommended growing zone is 7-9. My Bears Breeches probably thinks he is in Georgia growing in zone 7 but it actually is a foundation plant on a south facing wall of brick where my dryer exhaust is. Here is a photo of the Bears Breeches taken Saturday February 21st this year. There are a few things working together to get two zones warmer, one would be the brick wall, two south facing and third the dryer vent. All of these things work to provide a warmer zone for this plant. This plant has been in place for about 7 years and he seems to be happily blooming and spreading each year.
Another Microclimate could be low place that may hold rain for a few hours. This sort of space could home moisture-loving plants in your yard, or a plant that may suffer during our hot dry summers. You could try some swamp milkweed and the Monarch butterflies would love you! If you have a spot of yard that hold rainwater for days consider a rain garden.
If you doubt your natural microclimates, you could build one of bendable hoops and plastic sheets. With one of these in your yard, you could extend your growing season. This method is often used to harvest cold season crops of spinach, carrots and a host of many other vegetables.
I hope you gained a spark of interest and if you get “in trouble” we would love to see your efforts! Have fun looking at those plant and seed catalogues and remember your microclimates may allow for a warmer zone in your yard.
A plug for the Kosciusko County Master Gardner’s are hosting a public learning opportunity we call “Gardening Away The Winter Blues” or GAWB. This is actually a series of four evening courses on Tuesday’s beginning on March 7, 14, 21 and the last one is on the 28 at 202 W Main St., Warsaw. They all are from 6 to no later than 9 p.m. They each consist of at least two topics per evening with a break around the mid-point with finger foods. We have many topics lined up. If you are interested please call the Purdue Extension office at (574) 372-2340 for more details. You may pay per evening or the whole series and attend all or part of the courses. Again, please feel free to join us and bring a friend!