This past weekend I was reading an article in the Houston Chronicle by Ray Sher of Houston's Urban Harvest, in which he discussed the effects of our hard freezes on his winter vegetable garden. Those of you who garden in colder climes would probably be interested in reading it, if only to see how different our growing schedule is from yours and to understand just how different this winter has been from those of the past few years. His closing words were what struck me, though: Farmers, backyard gardeners, fruit tree growers, plant enthusiasts all have the weather as a constant companion.
That's why Tony Avent stressed that we should be mindful to "plant for what's coming" and choose plants that can take the extremes that our weather throws at them. It's not so hard to remember that our summers have days on end of 95 degree or higher temperatures and that nighttime lows are in the 80s. We've been dealing with that for several years now and we're painfully aware of how tough that is. But it's been so long since we've had a real winter that we've forgotten that our plants must also be able to handle temperatures below freezing, possibly for several days at a time as they did earlier this month. I think we also underestimate how hard it is on the plants to cope with such extremes in the space of a few months.
The weather is a gardener's constant companion. After all these years of gardening AGAINST the weather, I believe it's time for me to start gardening WITH it. I'm not saying that I'm going to completely redo my entire corner of Katy or that I'm going to stop pushing the limits and stretching the boundaries when it comes to planting zones. I'm just saying that Tony and Ray have encouraged me to be more mindful of the weather in my gardening and to think of it as my constant companion, a friend who's always with me when I'm outside. Be she fair or foul, we're in it together.