The Green Thumb: How is climate change affecting your garden? – Evanston RoundTable

Evanston RoundTable
Evanston's community newspaper since 1998
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We just experienced some very warm temperatures in June, and July and August will most likely give us more than our share of hot, hot weather.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised the country’s “Plant Hardiness Zones” using a 30-year temperature average. The Evanston area changed from zone 5b (15 to 10 degrees below the national average) to 6a (10 to five degrees below), which means our weather patterns are shifting, and we will most likely see increasingly warmer summers and winters.
This trend will affect almost all parts of our lives, including our gardens. With above average temperatures, how should we be managing our gardens?
Water is critical, but we need to be effective and efficient. Watering early in the morning when temperatures are cooler allows the plants to absorb more water and minimizes evaporation, thus using less water. Overnight rains can be helpful, though most gardens need at least an inch of rain per week. Use a rain gauge to determine if you need to make up the difference. 
Keep up the weeding this month. Many weeds thrive in hot, dry weather (and others love the rain), so, bottom line, don’t let the weeds get ahead of you! Add additional mulch if needed.
Late in the month is a good time to sow seeds in the vegetable garden for fall crops like beans, lettuce, spinach or your other favorite veggies. Removing old plants that are done producing allows room for a whole new garden in the fall. 
On one of those hot sticky days when you just can’t muster the energy to get in the garden, it’s a great time to sit back with a cold drink and take a good look at everything you’ve worked on.
Edit your garden. What needs pruning? What should be moved or even taken out? Does your garden have the overall look that you want – colors, shapes and blooming times? Take pictures – lots of pictures. Next year, you may not remember what worked or didn’t work. As our gardens age and evolve, it may also be helpful to keep a season-by-season garden journal. Make note of mistakes as well as successes.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor this month, and we’ll be back next month to share more garden tips.
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The Evanston RoundTable is the community’s leading source of news about local government, schools, civic and artistic activities, and other important issues facing our city. We seek to foster civic engagement and empower people to address complex issues facing our diverse community, promoting a better understanding and appreciation of people of all races, ethnicities, and income levels.
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