Create a Microclimate

Do you know how to create a microclimate?  You probably already have, but don’t realize it.  Microclimates can occur almost naturally all throughout your garden, but its a good idea to create a design that maximizes them.

My bougainvillea has survived 5 years in our challenging climate.  It grows on the eastpeppers-among-perennials side of the garden, next to the house.  This protective area creates heat and protection for a plant you would normally see in a climate like Hawaii.

There’s nothing as sweet a winter parsley!  Parsley typically dies down when cold weather hits, but I’ll enjoy it all winter because I create microclimates by planting it next to large rocks.  The rocks hold the heat and protect the heart of the parsley, while the leaves become cold and sweet.

Tomatoes planted next to my stone barbecue area produce 3 times as many tomatoes and have better flavor than tomatoes planted in other areas of the yard.  And they ripen earlier.

tomatoes warm near stoneAll my vegetables are interplanted with the perennials because interplanting creates diversity in the garden making all the plants healthier.  The vegetables do not attract the typical destructive insects such as hornworms, squash bugs and the like.  The perennials attract beneficial insects for pollination making the vegetables more productive.  It’s a lovely circle of beneficial life.

If I plan my perennial microclimate well, I can plant smaller vegetables like pepper plants between taller perennials which offer protection in the early spring and late fall.  My cucumbers can sprawl along the ground too, or I can train them to grow up a dead tree stump that acts as a trellis.  Last year the fall squash that was planted near a climbing rose had actually climbed up the 15 foot tall overhead archway and was growing among the roses!  I hadn’t planned it that way, but I thought it was fun to what it would do. There were 3 large squash hanging overhead until they ripened.

The melon plants that were planted near my pond outperformed melons planted in other garden beds.  I discovered a new microclimate!  Was the sun more direct?  Did the soil hold the heat better?  Was there more moisture due to humidity from the pond?  Not quite sure, but it was a lovely surprise.

strawberries near pondAnd the strawberry plants used as a ground cover growing up the raised side of the pond to the waterfall outperformed my strawberries planted near the raspberries, but in a flat bed.  Same amount of water for all the plants, but the raised pond area was angled with a south face.

Gardening is a real challenge in this climate, but small discoveries like all these new microclimates are a real joy.

In sync with nature,

Tova Roseman
Earth Diva

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Tova Roseman
Tova Roseman is a horticulturist, designer, award-winning speaker and nationally best-selling author. She received two awards for Best Radio Program in the nation and has been featured on HGTV, Discovery, NBC and ABC television. Tova is well-known for creating lush, organic gardens that are waterwise and pollinator friendly in challenging climates.