If you’re like me, digging in the dirt can calm, ground, and refresh your mood, all at once. It’s truly an enjoyable endeavor that also pays off in beautiful blooms and tasty vegetables and fruits. Studies have shown that gardening can have a meditative, healing effect on people – one study coined the phrase Horticultural Therapy. It is definitely an area in our lives where we experience “elbow room for the soul”.
In Clark County, WA, you’ll have to adjust your gardening style to the different conditions within our region. For example, those of us who live in East County – Fishers Landing, Camas, and Washougal have gorge winds to reckon with as they can cause problems with our plantings.
Strong winds tug at delicate root systems and prevent optimal growth. In addition, the wind dries out soil, therefore gardeners must be mindful and water deeply and with more frequency to avoid stress. Pathogens are also carried from one plant to the next, especially when accompanied by rain ( that never happens around here, right?).
You can create barriers for your more delicate plantings ( eg. tomatoes) to help block the winds. Small retaining walls, mesh screens, and trellis panels can be quite effective. Some gardeners create small recesses within windy slopes or other areas. These pockets are surrounded with a build up of stone or rocks and covered with a heavy layer of mulch to help retain moisture.
Thoughtful placement of trees and shrubs can also provide wind protection for your garden in East County. Consider hardy varieties such as redbud, mountain ash, dogwood, and Japanese maples, to name a few. We like shrubs such as rose hips, lavender, and high-bush cranberry. It’s essential that windbreaks are 50% permeable to filter the winds.
We’ve designed our raised-bed garden on a terraced southern slope that gets more sun and less cold north winds. Terracing makes it possible to garden on a slope with little concern over erosion. The heat stored by the terrace wall above each strip provides a bit of thermal protection for the crops below.
Gardening provides such a feeling of satisfaction. Digging in the dirt is good for the soul and our health. You can’t get much more fresh and local than the harvest from your own garden. Here’s to a great growing season in East Clark County, Washington.