After a few years of wild weather, your kids have probably asked about climate change. They may wonder how it will impact them, and if there is anything they can do about it. It may feel like a daunting question to answer, but you have a great place to start – your backyard garden. Climate-change driven weather events threaten home gardens all over Canada. Some of the biggest threats come from drought and excessive winds along with rain, sleet and snow storms. On the surface a household appears powerless against such things, but with some advice and creativity you can teach your kids that there is something they can do to make a difference, even if through one small construct at a time.
How Your Family Can Protect Your Backyard Garden from Extreme Weather Caused by Climate Change
How to Wind-Proof Your Family Garden
Teach your kids about the importance of understanding weather charts as they apply to wind speed/direction and your garden. Select your city from the Canada Weather Stats website and have a look around. Every city has current and historical wind gust and direction data for reference. For example, if located in Vancouver you can check out wind data here. The same goes for Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and so forth.
In knowing typical wind direction for your neighborhood, your family will understand how a windstorm can impact your garden. From there you can take necessary action. If blowing from the east, build a wooden barrier and secure it near the soil patch to protect plants from easterly gusts (etc.). As your garden grows, plant new crops along the side of the home, garden shed, fence, or dense hedge that best blocks the general wind direction.
How to Drought-Proof Your Family Garden
In many parts of Canada the spring and summer months are becoming longer, warmer, and drier. As a result, drought may be a concern for your garden. With water restrictions being mandated during such times, your kids will be concerned about their favorite plants withering away. Fret not, because there are steps your family can take. For one, plant drought tolerant crops, and plant them early in the spring so that they enjoy the tail end of rainy season. In addition, prepare the garden by adding more mulch. Lastly, install rain barrels around your property. Read this guide to planting a drought resistant garden with your family.
How to Precipitation-Proof Your Family Garden
Precipitation is good for your garden, but only in moderate amounts. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of climate change in our country (especially in Western Canada) is extreme rain which can cause overland flooding. While your property may be located in a low-risk zone, pooling rainwater can threaten your garden. To address this risk, add raised planting beds so that some crops grow above ground. To make this activity more fun for your kids, create playful planting beds from repurposed toys. In addition, protect against mild flooding by digging a swale (aka bioswale) to catch and redistribute rainwater away from the soil.
To protect against hail, build temporary protective covers and constructs that can be placed overtop of susceptible plants and crops when the forecast calls for it. This will also be effective against freezing rain, sleet, and snow. When it comes to the latter and the longer/colder winters that climate change is bringing to parts of Canada, diversify your garden with snow-hardy plants. Learn more about this topic in our guide to snow day gardening activities for the family.
By getting your kids involved in all of the above they will learn about how the measures apply and can be employed on a larger scale. Community and school gardens along with urban farms can use them to sustain crops despite an ever-changing climate. Who knows, your own children may be the ones to come up with new and even more effective strategies.