Posted on 16 April 2012 by John Hartz

This is a reprint of a press release posted by the Universtiy of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on April 12, 2012.

I've lost plants this winter because of weather instability, heat waves followed by cold snaps. I wonder what will survive these conditions. I live in USDA zone 5, and Sentient Biped told me he found that this area is moving into zone 6. Mother Nature surely has her way and no amount of burnt offerings calms her down. I guess we are indeed "godless in the garden"!


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Joan, thank you for posting this interesting link!  I've been trying to grow plants that are a bit "out of the box" for my area with mixed success.  A big Opuntia nopale-type cactus did OK for a few years, then died in a freeze.  It was an attempt at a "global warning kitchen garden" plant.  Same with a handsome Eucalyptus tree I was trying to grow, now long since dead.  Some species of Eucalyptus are said to do OK but this area is borderline for them.  They would have survived the most recent, mild winter.  Bamboo loves this area and flourishes.  I have a Mexican fan palm that I planted 10 years ago, now becoming a handsome tree.  I did not think it would survive the winter.

My biggest failure in the garden here is apricot trees.  I've tried 4 different varieties, all died within a few years.  One reached bearing size and died.  ALso an Aprium, died the year after its first crop.  It bloomed, and there was an early freeze that zapped it.  It's not so much how cold it got, but the timing of the freeze - if the tree has started to grow or is blooming, it's a goner.  My peaches have been a challenge too, with peach leaf curl and early blooming.  I'm giving up on the genetic dwarfs, which seem more suited to California, and now trying what I hope to be hardier varieties.


I gave up on peaches and apricots many years ago, even after replanting a couple of times. I think I told you I tried Ginkos but no luck. We had a nice gentle rain today but last week in the garden, the soil was drying. I'll need water when it is seeding time. I don't turn my outside water on until June 1 because if I do, I often lose a faucet or two. June 16 was a latest freeze in recent years. 

Joan, do other fruits do well?  Apples, pears, plums, cherries, grapes?  Mulberries?  I am growing a great mulberry, "Illinois Everbearing" that leafs out very late, and supposedly bears through the summer.  Mine is still a small tree - only had a taste last year, hoping for more this year.  Plums and cherries might bloom to early for you too, I don't know.  I have a European plum, Stanley, that is blooming now with the cherries, unlike the Asian plums that are long past blooming.  I also have a peach, Indian Free, that is supposed to be much later than others, and is also blooming now, long after the others finished.  It's also young, haven't had any peaches from it yet.

Freeze in June - challenging!

I took out my fruiting trees because I needed more light in the garden and late freezes took out the blossoms. I had great success with apples and pears, except for those late cold snaps. Two mountain ash blew over in wind storms. Birch don't like Spokane; I have never seen a healthy one in 38 years here, except for my next door neighbor. She has the most beautiful birch I have ever seen, summer and winter. We have cyclical droughts and borers take them down. Raspberries are great, as are strawberries. I freeze enough of each to get us through the year. Many herbs love my garden, a few I have tucked away in sheltered spots. Loving mint, I keep it well controlled so my garden doesn't become a mint farm. Same with chives; the birds scatter their seeds, so I have lovely green very early and pretty white or purple blossoms. The seed heads come off before they go to seed. Washington Hawthorne broke into three parts leaving a nice stump that I use for bird and squirrel feeding, just next to my eating area. I'll not grow another weeping cherry; I haven't seen one that looks pretty after a few years. The most delicious garlic you could ever eat comes out of this soil. 

Happy gardening. 

Great garlic is indeed a blessing, almost enough to convince me of the benevolence of the gods.  Do you know the variety?  Inchelium Red reportedly comes from the Colville Indian Reservation in Northern WA, and many sources list it as a wonderful variety.  I grew it and I agree, although I got it mixed up with my German Red so any more I don't know for sure which one I grow now.  German Red has fewer, larger cloves, I think, while Inchelium Red has larger bulbs with somewhat milder flavor.

Many years ago I went to our big garden supply store and bought 12 different varieties of garlic. I labelled them, but over the years labels disappear, and they reseed, especially when spread by birds. So I have garlic returning every year, they have undoubtedly exchanged genes so, for all practical purposes, I have a batch growing in one part of the garden that is as mild as an apple, in another space garlic that knocks your socks off. Yes, Inchelium Red was one of included. Over a year ago, during winter, I ran out of garlic so bought one at the grocery store for cooking. It came from China. !*$#%^&+.  It was like cooking with cardboard. 

Interesting link Joan, thank you. I worry about the same thing, especially now that I am fully into organic foods. Having come from a very tropical North Australia, growing a garden here is Texas is almost the opposite. In Aus, I had no trouble with any plants, they just grew and out of control I might add. Palms that triple their size in a year etc.

Dealing with the frosts and cold here are a challenge to me and also upsets me as I can only have a 'garden' for the spring/summer months whereas I was used to having a green garden all year around and plants that are a 'weed' at home are sold in pots here - lantana for instance, I would never purchase this awful weed in Aust but here my nursery sells it in abundance.

Climate change scares me a lot, it is easier to destroy the planet that it is to fix it and with the growing trends of mankind, 'we ain't fixin things anytime soon'.


I bet you can grow figs there - what is your climate zone?  I am in 8.  My figs have survived down to 15 degrees.  Multiplier onions can be planted in the fall and give scallions in Jan or feb here.  Your winters are longer than mine.  You should  be able to grow mesclun and spinach in fairly cold weather.  I am only guessing because your location is probably very different from mine.


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