Friday, February 11, 2011
Effects of cold weather in the garden
Earlier this week, we had a light dusting of snow. It was perfect, really. It was just enough snow to look pretty, but not enough to damage any plants. The roads were perfectly clear and there was not an awful layer of ice, as there was on the last snowy day.
I have always heard that snow and cold weather was beneficial for gardens and while it may have some positive effects, like softening the ground, according to all I have read, the benefits are not as great as I always heard. Some of what I heard might have been just "old wives tales."
One of the things I always hoped was true was that a colder than usual winter could significantly reduce the insect population. While this may be somewhat true -- some bugs are killed with extremely cold temperatures, bugs hibernate, burrow deep and migrate enough to avoid dying off to any large degree in our milder climate. After a really cold winter they may decrease a bit, but they will be back after a mild year.
There are some things you can do to help decrease insects in the garden. The number one thing is to till. Till deeply and, if possible, till before the last frost. Tilling at this time will dig up some of the burrowing insects so they will be exposed to the cold and will be killed more easily. It is unlikely you will get all of them, but getting rid of even a few can be helpful. After a terrible year like last year when bugs were such a problem, decreasing them even a little would be great.
I know we will be firing up the tiller as soon as it gets dry enough and just hope we can fight the bugs off a little better this year. If the snow and cold weather help us, that would be great. We would take all the help we can get.