Posted on: January 12, 2016 | Written By: Doug Oster |
As winter finally arrives in full force and temperatures dropping to single digits, there’s nothing better for the garden than a layer of snow. It’s quite a relief actually.
Even though it’s not a great day to realize your snowblower isn’t working, the snow protects perennials, bulbs, roots of trees/shrubs and in my case cool weather crops in the vegetable garden.
For perennials, shrubs, bulbs and other plants, the snow acts as a mulch to reduce heaving during the freeze and thaw cycle.
Snow is often referred to as a poor man’s fertilizer. As it falls, snowflakes collect nitrogen. During a thaw, the snow melts and the nitrogen is released to the plants.
Also, the snow will slowly add moisture as temperatures warm up.
This is a great test for my vegetable garden as at least half of the beds are filled with cold weather crops. There’s nothing more surprising than uncovering an area of greens when the thaw eventually arrives and finding them ready to harvest. It’s thrilling to have a garden salad after a brutal cold snap and even better to brag about it to gardening friends!
There are still carrots and beets in the ground, which are mulched with straw. The snow will give them an extra layer of protection. Since the ground hadn’t froze yet, they will be easier to pick during the next warm spell.
The first decent snow is the most beautiful as every plant reacts differently. I love to see the ornamental grasses weeping under the weight of the white stuff. It’s one of the reasons I don’t cut them back until spring.
There’s nothing worse for the landscape than really cold temperatures without snow. Even though it’s going to be harder to get up the driveway, there’s solace in the fact the garden will be happier sleeping under a blanket of snow.