Overall, zone 7b in North Carolina is a great place to garden with a much longer growing season than many of the more northern states. Lately, however, it seems like erratic weather conditions are on the rampage. While cold winter temps sometimes delay planting in spring, some years are worse than others. In fact, at this writing on the cusp of early May, our temperature is forecast to be in the low 30s.
The “March” winds continue to howl even now, making gardening in my zone uncomfortable, let along being outside for any length of time. Unusual weather can make other gardening issues, like too much shade seem like a picnic. How does one find success when gardening in erratic weather conditions? Simple…you just adapt and overcome, especially when your mind wants to believe you have growing conditions more like warmer garden zones.
Regional Gardening in My Zone Isn’t a Science
Of course, I always snap back to the reality of gardening in zone 7 and deal with the cold temperatures. I’m currently harvesting plenty of salad greens, with radishes and onions in the ground, ready to be harvested soon. That healthy kale is coming along well, but really, how many salads can you eat, especially without fresh tomatoes?
While I’m aware that spinach, kale, and the later Swiss chard are also great in stir-fries with bacon, onions, and garlic, I’m ready to plant melons, peppers, and especially tomatoes outside in the right growing spot. Of course, this year I’m especially glad to have gotten seeds started inside for some of the warm weather crops.
Because of the wonky weather, many ornamentals are blooming late this year. After a great show from my hellebores in January, blooms of other plants are running behind. My fig bushes are just beginning to get foliage. Still others are starting too early, due to unseasonably warmer conditions months before.
Keep in mind, that every few years my plans for gardening in warmer garden zones than mine pay off and the weather cooperates. Most years, though, I stick with planting the cool season crops early and take precautions when temperatures drop. In these random years, protection isn’t needed as often. But all things considered, I’ve become well versed at when to cover sprouting seeds and young plants.
Consider, too, that perhaps with these ever-changing, erratic weather conditions knocking on the door, I might be ahead of my time. This flip-of-a-coin gardening may become the norm of the future, when all weather temperatures are unpredictable.
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