Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Ok, we know the holiday season is past, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t still want it to snow for our gardens’ sakes. And no, we’re not kidding. Contrary to the belief that all things cold are bad for a garden, snow is actually beneficial to gardens in more than one way.
For example, did you know that when snow falls tiny amounts of atmospheric nitrogen and sulfur attach to snowflakes? Nitrogen is an essential part of plant growth, as is moist soil. Snow helps keep moisture in the snow, and when it finally does melt, it will slowly water plants while giving them a nice nitrogen boost to start spring off right.
Snow, believe it or not, is an excellent insulator. The particles that form snowflakes are spread out widely and there are many tiny air pockets within each individual flake. When packed together, snow reflects light and heat, protecting plants from temperature fluctuations, which can be damaging to hibernating plants. An inch or two of snow is as good of an insulator as any mulch.
Some plants also like moderately cold temperatures. Bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, and tulips actually need to have some resting time at a steady, cold temperature before they will bloom in the spring. A layer of snow keeps very cold temperatures at bay, preventing soil from freezing too deeply and damaging trees, roots, and bulbs. On the other hand, it also keeps the beds cool enough that bulbs won’t bloom prematurely (say before the danger of re-frosting is past).
So, no more lamenting if it snows on your garden. We say, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”