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Snow Farming in the Garden

The Melt

With the heavy melting we saw in Calgary last week, I was outside shoveling snow off of my lawn and moving it to an uncovered spot underneath our Spruce tree. Although the weather troubles at the Vancouver Olympics have likely given Snow farming a whole new meaning, for us in the chinook zone it is a valuable way to ensure that trees are kept moist even during the warmer windy days of late winter and early spring.

When temperatures rise quickly snow can melt much faster than the ground is able to absorb the running water. This results in dry south facing landscapes. This doesn’t do our trees and shrubs any good when they are getting ready for spring.

Moving the Snow out of the Pile

Shoveling snow during a melt may seem crazy, but it can really help out your trees and shrubs. Snow cover can provide much needed insulation for tender root systems in the event that the temperature drops back down suddenly. This can help avoid some root damage that tender plants might otherwise have to overcome in the spring. In addition to the insulation having some available water in the soil as soon as things get going in the spring will ensure that everything gets off to a good start.

Pile excess snow around the drip line of your trees and work your way in toward the trunk. It may not last long with the temperatures rising, but any extra moisture that makes it down into the soil is going to be beneficial. Any snow that makes it through the chinooks is going to provide better insulation for any perennials or woody plants.

If you are ever itching to get out in the garden during a chinook and just need to do something, moving snow to the dry areas of your yard is a good place to start.


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