Snow and Cold

What's the good thing about a big snowstorm followed by record-breaking low temperatures? Although it seems like there's not much to be happy about in Edmonton this week, gardeners can at least be consoled by the fact that the snow came before the cold weather. Snow, especially when in comes in large amounts, is an excellent insulator that keeps the ground from getting anywhere near as cold as the air above it. In fact, under a thick blanket of snow, the ground will rarely get colder than a few degrees below freezing. This insulation of the ground is very important for plant roots, most of which would quickly die when exposed to winter air temperatures.

Snow is an ideal mulch not only because of its superior insulation abilities, but also because it provides water to plants when they need it most, and it allows light through, so some tough perennials can commence growth in the spring before the snow has even melted. It also applies and removes itself, which saves labour, and is free.

Of course, snow is not always reliable in some regions, so another mulch, such as fallen leaves, wood chips, shredded bark or compost can be applied "just in case". Care should also be used if you pile snow on shrubs, as the heavy snow can easily break branches. And never, never, ever pile snow on your plants if it has ice-melting salt in it, or you'll have a very brown garden in the spring.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for seeing the positive in something most of us hate. Two more nice things about snow; it keeps me warm when I am shoveling, and I always feel good about myself afterwards, having finished an important task.

    Have a nice and snowy day.

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  2. We saw the news coverage on your record breaking -50 something temperatures, while we were enjoying our relatively balmy -12 C. in Whitehorse. And I think you now have a better snow cover than us, unless your blizzard conditions blew most of it away.

    I think milder weather is on the way for you, as it is with us. We're forecasted for +2 C. on Saturday.

    All the best for the Holidays.

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  3. I hope the weather has moderated for you; we had some wicked cold here in Nova Scotia for a couple of days, missed the big snowstorm, and now it's raining. Never dull, weather in Canada. Best wishes for a happy Christmas and a joyful new year.

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  4. And let's not forget how pretty it looks! This is my first Canadian winter in almost 10 years (I've recently moved from zone 8 Austin, TX) and, maybe by the end of this Edmonton winter I'll be hating it. For now, though, I'm seeing it transform my food garden into a blank slate and allowing me to visualize new possibilities.

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