How is climate change affecting my garden?

flooded gardenQuestion: I’m an avid gardener. I’ve noticed the last few summers we seem to get extremely hard rains that wash off a lot of the topsoil and compact the soil. And then the soil seems to get so dry, as we don’t have the more frequent, light soaking rains. Is this related to climate change, and what can I do about it?

Answer: Climate change is already causing changes in precipitation that we are used to in the Northeastern US. We are expected to see an increase in rainfall in this region (as opposed to other areas of the United States that will see continued decreasing precipitation because of climate change). We will also see a change in the pattern of how precipitation falls.

More rainfall will occur in short, hard downpours, and extended dry periods will be more common in between those events. This could lead to an increase in periods of short-term drought, as the Northeast region has begun to experience at various points over the past few years. These changes will have large effects on gardeners and farmers, causing issues such as flooded growing areas that result in soil erosion and compaction, delayed spring planting, pesticide and fertilizer runoff, and poor plant growth due to challenges such as saturated soils, root disease, and fungus.

There are many ways that gardeners can respond to climate change, including planting cover crops and using organic mulches to boost soil organic matter. That can help soils drain better after heavy rains while also retaining moisture during dry spells.

For more information, see Gardeners part of climate-change solution at this site and visit the Cornell Garden-Based Learning website.








Category: Climate Change Q&A

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