Snow holds incredible benefits for spring seasonHow quickly this past year seems to have flown by, and already next week we will be welcoming in a new year. As much as the gardener in me wants to make plans for spring clean-up and planting, we still have a good three months of winter to endure.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
How quickly this past year seems to have flown by, and already next week we will be welcoming in a new year.
As much as the gardener in me wants to make plans for spring clean-up and planting, we still have a good three months of winter to endure.
For one who is not fond of the cold, enduring the winter is what I do best. Usually the less time I spend in the cold, the better I feel.
However, as I age, I have noticed the seasons are passing by quicker with each passing year. I find myself trying to enjoy the season before it has transitioned into the next.
Winter seems to be getting quicker for me also, thus I have less time to think about it and sometimes feel rushed preparing for all the tasks of spring.
Either I am becoming too busy with things or my mind is starting to go and I can’t seem to remember half of what I have been doing.
Either way I am developing a greater appreciation for each and every season we are fortunate to experience in our region.
Cold is not the only overwhelming element that accompanies winter, along with it also comes the snow.
The essence of snow actually has a beautiful feeling to it when you are either walking in it or watching it fall from within the confines of a warm home.
It is fresh and it is peaceful. You can go for a walk while it is falling and not get wet. In fact, it is very enjoyable to take a stroll in the falling snow as long as there is no wind blowing.
This sense of peace is not just in your imagination, but it is actually one of the benefits of the snow. After a fresh snowfall, the air pockets within the fallen snow act as a noise buffer. They absorb the sound waves and keep them from traveling as far, thus creating a quieter atmosphere. As the snow settles and compacts, this benefit slowly diminishes.
So far it seems that we currently have more snow on the ground than we did over last year’s entire season. Although we still have to shovel it from our drives and walkways, there are many benefits that come along with the snow.
The blanket of snow that results from a mild to heavy snowfall creates a great cover for our lawns and garden beds. This blanket acts as an insulator to protect the dormant plants from the extreme cold of the season. This snow cover, on low growing evergreens, also protects them from late season winter burn and from the harsh winds that tend to rob their foliage of moisture.
Last year there was very little snow cover and the temperatures created an erratic inconsistence from one extreme to the other. This combination alone created many hardships for the survival of various herbaceous and woody plant materials once spring arrived. As much as I hate to say it, more consistent cooler temperatures with a good snow cover keeps the ground from freezing so deep in the winter, which also protects some of the fragile root systems of various plants.
During the arrival of spring, the melting of the snow creates beneficial moisture to begin the growing season. This moisture is very important in replenishing the subsoil moisture, which assists plants during the dry months of summer. This subsoil moisture is advantageous to both agricultural land as well as our own lawns and gardens.
Snowmelt adds vital nitrates and nitrogen to our soils, very much like rain does during the warm months. With this in mind and the dry summer and autumn we went through this past year, I have been making a concerted effort to throw all the snow from the driveway onto the beds that already have a thick covering of leaves protecting them. When this snow melts, it will not only supply needed moisture to their root systems, but will also assist in breaking down the leaves for additional nutrients.
As a rule of thumb, it takes about 10 inches of normal snow to create an inch of precipitation. Of course this measurement idea all changes if you get wet snows that occur in late fall or during the spring season. Our winters in the past decade or so have seen an average snowfall of 30 to 50 inches per year.
A slow spring melt will allow this moisture to enter the soil where it will present the most benefits. In a spring season where the temperatures rise quickly, this snowmelt runs off into the existing tributaries and can create major flooding at times. Although this flooding is not detrimental in the natural world, it can be very catastrophic for humans and their structures that stand in nature’s way.
Over all, that white fluffy snow you see in the yards and on the countryside have huge benefits to our natural environment during the growing seasons. Utilize its great properties to the best of your abilities to enhance the life in your own yards and gardens. Just like people who collect rainwater, which pours off their roofs, snow and the nutrients that are within it hold a high value also to your plants, currently in insulated slumber.
Here’s to the start of a wonderful new year and the beginning to a new season in the garden. Enjoy them all as each season holds its own amazing benefits! Happy New Year everyone!