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22 February 2016 @ 01:33 pm
Microclimates....  
A lot of folks get hung up on the zone system. While it IS a good GENERAL indicator, area within(or even within your own property) can be a full zone above or below. That’s why I don’t think you really get a “clue” about where you live until you’ve AT LEAST lived on it a full 2 seasonal cycles. My present home we’ve only been here 1, so while I have an idea what the condition are, I really won’t for at least one more….though likely 3;>.
We lived on our old property 15 yrs. Depending where on the property you were:
Z8a
Z8b
Z9a

Chill hrs ran from 200 to 400. That meant that, depending where I planted, I could grow stuff from Temperate to Tropical. And this isn’t adding in artificial help like Frost covers;>. Landscape and Hardscape will influence Temps both Up AND down as well. A lot of folks think jut about the low Temps but IME I’ve had more plants fail due to overheating than the cold. Warmer temps can screw up a plant’s Dormancy requirements preventing thriving at least and preventing fruiting and flowering as well. Heat’s also the hardest to work around. There aren’t any “cool covers”;>.
Pay attention. Long time growers know this and is THE most important thing you can do. After all, in the 15 yrs I lived on my last property we migrated from an average z8a to a z9a. Adapting is the 2nd most important thing. Rainfall patterns at the old place changed from generally gentle afternoon Rains in the Summer to about a dozen cloudbursts a month. Areas without irrigation(including the Woods) lost pretty much everything that didn’t have water storage capacity or deep roots.
I’ve learned a few things in a yr here at Royal Oaks. I’ve learned exposures; Sun and Shade at what time of the yr. A big reason this Spring I’m moving lot of plants from the back courtyard. When we moved in last Yule-eve it was part Shade. We learned in Summer it’s full Sun. Some things got moved earlier;>! The front is just the opposite. Winters here are drier than in FWB, which is only 20 minutes away. We’re more Humid however. So while everyone 15-20 miles away this Winter has been washed away periodically, we’ve road it out with actually a helpful amt of rainfall. This yr will teach us more and the next and the next……
Cheers,
Pat
 
 
Current Location: Royal Oaks
Current Mood: awake
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dark_phoenix54: lights through the treesdark_phoenix54 on February 23rd, 2016 02:21 am (UTC)
The zone system always annoys me because it is such a coarse sort. In our county, which the USDA zone system says is a 5, we have everything from a 3 up in the hills to a 6 or even 7 right on the lake with a south facing exposure. And everyone forgets that it's an average- years when the lowest it gets is 20F are added in with years when it hits -30F. The plants don't live by the average; the -30F will kill them even though they ride out the median.
mdehnersmdehners on February 23rd, 2016 12:37 pm (UTC)
That's my point. Each Grower NEEDS to pay attention to where they actually live and do the work themselves. Even local extension services are not very useful beyond Soil and Rainfall(and even then there's wiggle room).
Soil is one factor not too many folks pay attention to. Even though my property is surrounded by Oak Woods there is a BIG difference in soil from front and back of the house. The front has a number of deciduous trees which have "upped" the Humus level. None in the back. Even Xeric plant have a problem in Summer on a pure Rainfall water intake in the back. In front, even hardy plants sail through without supplementary irrigation.
Zones pretty much tell you what plants with wide Tolerances you can grow. Those with narrow you do Trials. And considering one of the things I learned my 1t yr was that Tomatoes do better here than at my old property tells me that conditions are definitely markedly different....
Cheers,
Pat
crowjoycrowjoy on February 24th, 2016 01:05 pm (UTC)
Heh, sounds like you could live where I do! Supposed to be a 5 but up on my hill we're at most a 4b where down in town near the lake at least a 6 with some 7s. With all that possibility I still sorta kick myself knowing I CHOSE the coldest place to grow. But, like mdehners says, adapting!