Gardeners: Prepare to endure another La Niña winter

October 18, 2011

By Jane Garrison

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Jeff Renner tells us we are in for another La Niña.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not moping around, crazy mad about the weather. Every little ray of sunshine and every little tinge of warmth have been appreciated to the max by me.

But still, I’m unable to come to grips with the big picture. The issue of global climate change is huge, impacting much more than just gardening, making it hard to comprehend.

When pondering different subject matters for this column I looked at many fall activities, such as planting bulbs, appreciating dahlias or storing fruit. All paled by comparison to the nagging, overwhelming subject of global warming.

The receding glaciers, the issue of water supply, unbelievable tornadoes, debilitating droughts, and massive flooding all fit into the picture painted for us by scientists just a few years ago. It appears to be coming true and quickly.

In the past, what did people do when faced with uncertain change? Some of you remember the victory gardens of World War II. It seems to me that a good thing to do now is to be resourceful and self-reliant. This might be one of those times to put our concerns closest to home by planting an edible garden.

You will need good drainage and at least four hours of strong sunshine. Share what you grow with your neighbors. Someone with a big, sunny plot might grow corn. Another person with less exposure could grow potatoes and squash. Maybe someone has an ideal spot for tomatoes. Many different people could grow greens, carrots and radishes.

Know all of your neighbors, even the old ones, and the ones with the screaming kids and barking dogs. Every one of them will have something to share, whether it be baked goods, extra fruit from their trees, canning equipment, quilts and handmade items, hand-me-down children’s clothes, compost and the list goes on. Stories and knowledge can be shared, so that everyone in your sphere benefits, and no one is left uncared for — so very important in uncertain times.

Plant that fall garden, and then do me a favor. Go out and get yourself some bulbs to plant this fall. Common ones are daffodils, iris, crocus, tulips and hyacinths. Plant them in well-drained soil and sunshine where you can see them from your window. Protect the tulip’s bulbs from squirrels with chicken wire baskets you can make up yourself.

If you do that now, come next spring you will be unsinkable. Not even rain, snow, sleet or Jeff Renner will keep you down. You will be up and focused on the thrill and hope you see in those early spring flowers. Just do it.

Jane Garrison is a local landscape architect and master gardener who gardens in glacial till on the plateau.

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