by Connie Oswald Stofko
What does climate change mean for your garden?
As the climate continues to change, how will you, as a gardener, keep up with the changes?
This is Climate Week, and in this article we’ll bring you some resources to help you understand climate change and adapt as a gardener.
Ebook on climate change for gardeners
What do you see when you look at your garden? A flower here, a tree there, a butterfly over yonder? Your garden is more complex than that.
It’s really a system of relationships among the soil, plants, insects, birds and other creatures, according to Gardening in a Warming World: A Climate Smart Gardening Course Book.
This great ebook from Cornell Cooperative Extension encourages us not to look at our gardens as a group of isolated parts. Instead, it shows us how to recognize and analyze the interconnections within the whole garden. When we alter one part of a system, it will change other parts.
The book is easy to understand and gives you ways to apply these ideas to your own garden. The authors include links to even more resources that gardeners will find interesting.
Then the book gives some basics of climate change and how, in a general way, it is affecting gardeners.
Finally, the book addresses how gardeners can not only adapt to climate change, but take steps to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions to stabilize the levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
To adapt to climate change, you may use a more diverse mix of plants in your garden, including plants that are usually grown in a warmer gardening zone.
To mitigate climate change, you might cut down the need for gas-powered mowers and fossil-fuel-based fertilizers by replacing high-maintenance lawns with alternative plants.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ climate
We don’t have just one climate in Western New York– our lakes, hills and valleys create different climate conditions within our region.
Stephen Vermette, professor of geography at Buffalo State College, identified five climate zones in Western New York, which he explained in this previous article. Vermette’s work is giving us more detail than we’ve had before when it comes to the way climate change is affecting different parts of Western New York.
Help scientists gather better data
Remember the Snowvember Storm of 2014? Some South Cheektowaga residents got a winter’s worth of snow—60 inches—during that storm. But just a mile away, the National Weather Service office at the airport recorded only 16 inches, said Dan Kelly, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo.
Weather reporting stations can be 15 miles apart, while a band of lake effect weather might be only a mile or two wide. That band could easily miss the weather stations we have in place.
Volunteers are needed to collect weather data from their homes through the nonprofit group Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. It’s better known as CoCoRaHS (pronounced kō-kō-rahz) and is supported by the National Weather Service.
“Having volunteers fills in the gaps and gives us a better idea of what’s going on,” Kelly said. “It gives us more accurate information. Lake effect snow is big in Western New York, and the more readings we can get, the better.”
The data that volunteers collect is used not only by the National Weather Service, but by other meterologists, farmers, the US Department of Agriculture, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, emergency managers, teachers and people working with water conservation, storm water management and mosquito control.
Guided walk on climate change
Explore the impacts of a changing climate and what Reinstein Woods may look like in the future on this guided walk.
Registration is required. Call 716-683-5959 to register.