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Determining micro-climates in your vegetable garden

Standing water after a rain indicates one type of micro-climate in the garden
Standing water after a rain indicates one type of micro-climate in the garden
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Your vegetable garden isn't made up of just one climate zone. In fact, even the smallest of backyards can have several micro-climates. It's important to know what your backyard micro-climates are in order to properly place and care for your herbs, vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees. For instance, you wouldn't place a shade lover in direct sun or a sun lover under a tree. Of course, there are more factors to micro-climates than the amount of sunlight an area receives.

What are some common micro-climates found in the backyard garden?

Hot spots are micro-climates that receive a great deal of mid-day sun. While these areas can be excellent locales for vegetable gardens, not all your veggies will thrive there. Cool weather crops, such as lettuce might prefer a little less intense heat.

Wetlands are not specific to wilderness areas. They can occur right in your own backyard. Low lying areas without proper drainage retain water. While mosses and grasses may thrive there, most vegetables need drainage to keep roots from developing fungus.

Cold air pockets can develop next to shade projecting fences and barriers. Since both sun and rain are blocked, these areas might be too cool and dry for planting most vegetables. These are good locations for garden décor or scattered, mulched shade plants.

What are some easy ways to identify micro-climates?

Native plants can help pinpoint micro-climates. By seeing the type of plant that thrives in your garden zones, you can easily determine the micro-climate.

Soil type is telling. Testing your soil will tell you if a micro-climate is vegetable garden ready or needs to be amended or changed.

Look for standing water after a heavy rain. It's an indication of poor drainage.

Dry, brown areas indicate hot spots. These will show up more readily in drought conditions. Hot spots also require more watering to keep them green.

What's the best micro-climate for a vegetable garden?

It really depends on what type of vegetable you intend to grow. For instance, tomatoes and hot peppers do well in hot spots. Your best bet is to check growing conditions for each veggie you wish to grow, then plant and care for them accordingly.

Can you create your own micro-climates?

Absolutely! You can fill in ditches, clear shade trees and remove barriers. You can amend poor soil. Using shade cloth can shelter fragile veggies from hot spots. You can use raised beds in low lying areas. Whatever micro-climate your vegetable garden requires can be created artificially. Determining the existing micro-climates in your vegetable garden is just the first step.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.