Thursday, October 15, 2009

Change of Climate Gardening: Blog Action Day

Back Gate Inverted

I love the tall spires of sky blue delphinium that create a soft background to lower growing plants. I can’t imagine not being able to grow them along a fence or in a flower garden. The impact of climate change on gardening may mean that delphiniums will no longer be a viable choice for my garden. Climate is changing and with it what can be grown in a specific area changes. Gardeners are well aware of their zone and what is feasible to grow within that area. Gardening in the desert 10b zone seems light years away from gardening in northwest Ohio, designated as part of zone 5b, but it’s changing and even the USDA can’t seem to grasp the fact that hardiness zones need to catch up to the increasing temperature of the Earth. So going forward you may want to start being more aware of what grows well and what does not, take notes, and adjust your planting.

What’s Going On?
Take a look at what climate change is doing to Ohio. According to the report, Economic Impact of Climate Change on Ohio, released in July 2008 by the Center for Integrative Environmental Research at the University of Maryland, the temperature in Ohio has risen over the last 100 years by 1.3 degrees F; precipitation has increased by 10% in the north and decreased by the same number in southern Ohio. The water level of Lake Erie has dropped 3.5 feet. “These trends are predicted to worsen if climate change progresses unchecked.”

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly
As a gardener perhaps you’re jubilant that your zone will change from a 5 to a 6 giving you a longer growing season for your passion. Well, that’s not so bad, but what else happens?

Within every garden lie the good and the evil. I’m talking about pests. The change in climate doesn’t just affect your flowers and vegetables; it also affects the critters that munch on your prize roses and blue ribbon tomatoes. A longer period of warmth gives the munching, crunching invasive bugs more time for eating through the garden.

Invasive weeds that never knew Ohio soil may advance from the south and into your garden with gleeful exuberance at the expanding territory much to your exasperation and exhaustion.

Combat Climate Change
What can you do to make a difference? The first step is become informed and educated and then put what you learn into sound gardening practices. Start by following the recommended “green” garden changes:

  1. Cut down on gas powered garden tools
  2. Reduce the use of water by collecting water in barrels
  3. Choose plants wisely; look for drought and heat resistant plants suitable for your area
  4. Compost instead of tossing garbage and leaves into plastic bags
  5. Live locavore, in other words plant a vegetable garden or buy locally grown vegetables and fruits
  6. Hang clothes on a line outside in the summer, you will be rewarded in oh so many ways
  7. Resist the urge to use chemicals in the garden; instead opt for natural remedies

Still not sure you believe all this nonsense about climate change? Think about this for a minute…we’re proud to be called Buckeyes, but what will we be called when the Buckeye state no longer can grow buckeye trees? Climate change will force us to change as gardeners, but it may also change our identity as residents of Ohio. I don’t know about you, but I’m proud to say I’m a Buckeye gardener. Take some time to read blogs from around the world that offer different perspectives on climate change through Blog Action Day.


  1. Thank you for such a timely and important post. We all need to be responsible for our environment, especially as we can see evidence of warming.

  2. You're welcome. This is a topic I'm passionate about and want to share with the world. Unfortunately, not everyone is seeing the evidence or choosing to ignore it.

  3. Line drying clothing, collecting rainwater and buying locally grown vegetables and fruits are absolutely a normal part of life where we live near Edinburgh. I'm always aghast that the tumble dryer is constantly working at the house of some of my relatives in the US. I grew up in the US but the biggest change in my mindset since I left is my awareness of how much energy is needlessly wasted by a culture that's grown up around cheap gas and cheap electricity. Paying European prices for energy changed my ways quickly!

  4. I so agree that we here in the US waste energy. Growing up in a rural town, everyone hung clothes out to dry. Now days, I seldom see a clothes lines in yards. There's nothing like sleeping on sheets fresly dried from wind and sun.

    I'm going to write a post on the lack of locavore in rural America. Sad that the very place where food is grown ships in vegetables and fruits from who knows where. Farmer's Markets barely have anything and run at odd times when most people are not available to shop for fresh food. It's a frustrating conundrum.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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