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Gardening in Tough Locations

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Not all gardens are blessed with rich soil, hardy plants, and perfect weather conditions. However, gardens are practically everywhere - even in places you might not expect. Agriculture is an important and widespread industry in the USA, after all. If our ancestors managed to make something of the land they lived on, so can you.


Go for perennials


Perennials are hardy and resilient plants that grow (and even thrive) no matter what the weather is or where they are located. You can plant according to those endemic to your place, so that you will end up not only with a gorgeous garden, but also the wildlife (like birds and insects) that will be drawn to it. Consult a local gardening almanac so you can have an idea of which plants, seeds, and blooms to start a garden with.


For gardeners living in Northern conditions with their long winters and short summers, colorful perennials like the Bleeding Heart vine, peonies, and some types of irises not only add much-needed color to your surroundings - they will also be tough enough for the cold climate. Birch trees, hydrangea bushes, and French lilacs can contribute texture, shade, more color, and fragrance to your Northern garden, too.


Southern gardens can enjoy plants that actually thrive in the heat. Daffodils, roses, and irises are just some examples of tough little beauties that can also add delicious hues and scents to your outdoors. Native oaks and other summer-flowering trees offer welcoming shade and color. And what can be hardier in desert-like conditions than the cactus? Many succulents bloom with colorful flowers, and you can expect them to stay healthy even in drought-like conditions.


Plant according to conditions


It’s common knowledge that you should plant on frost-free days. However, it’s a rare thing  to know exactly when those frost-free days are where you live (or wish to start a garden). The best way to plant according to weather, frost dates, soil type, rainfall, humidity, wind, and other important gardening factors would be to consult a color-coded zone map. These maps show the median dates of first frost during different times of the year, so that you have a rough estimate of when the best times to plant are.


Because of unpredictable temperature and weather change of late, you might have to introduce some new gardening practices to accommodate the conditions. For example, you can start seeding vegetables indoors (like spinach, broccoli, and lettuce) in February because chances are, the soil outside will still be frozen for planting. As soon as your garden soil thaws, you can transplant the seedlings in time for a spring garden. If you’re expecting drought, start collecting water from boiling vegetables, or harvest rainwater in a bucket outdoors to use for your plants.


If you still aren’t sure about the conditions, consult a gardening calendar app, or test your soil for fertility via its sulfur and nutrient levels.


Mulch properly


After testing your soil for fertility and other conditions, you can have a general idea if your garden is workable. If you live in a relatively dry area, chances are your soil will be alkaline, so acidifying it is a good idea. Mulching is a great way to go about this - it neutralizes the soil’s pH levels and makes it friendlier to work with.

 Don’t heap mulch in a volcano-like fashion around a plant’s roots because this will overheat them. A depth of 2-3 inches, spread evenly over the soil, is just right. Mulching properly means keeping your soil and plant roots protected from the elements, pests, and weeds while keeping soil temperature and moisture even.

 Check out the our gardening by state post!





Alan Weiman
Alan Weiman