Do you live in a microclimate?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by blufford, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,285
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Location:
    Delaware
    I would love to hear about people who live in microclimates and how they take advantage of this on the homestead. Here is a small excerpt from Cornell University and its link below it.


    A microclimate is the climate of a small

    area that is different from the area

    around it. It may be warmer or colder,

    wetter or drier, or more or less prone to

    frosts.


    Microclimates may be quite small - a

    protected courtyard next to a building,

    for example, that is warmer than an exposed

    field nearby.

    Or a microclimate

    may be extensive - a band extending

    several miles inland from a large body of

    water that moderates temperatures.

    Large bodies of water, such as the

    Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, Lake

    Champlain, Long Island Sound and the

    Atlantic Ocean, tend to moderate air

    temperatures of adjacent inland areas.

    Low temperatures in winter are not as

    extreme, and these areas are less prone

    to late spring and early fall frosts.


    Smaller bodies of water also have the

    same effect, usually to a lesser extent.

    Urban areas tend to have less extreme

    low temperatures than the surrounding

    countryside. Buildings and paved surfaces

    absorb heat during the day, then

    radiate it back into the air at night, reducing

    the chances of frost and moderating

    low temperatures during winter.

    Buildings also offer protection from

    wind in many places. Urban areas may

    be a full Hardiness Zone warmer than

    rural areas just a few miles away.







    http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/weather/microcli.pdf
     
  2. mustard

    mustard Active Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    A few years ago, we were driving home on a long trip during a cold snap, and the mini van we were in had an external thermometer (not our vehicle; fun, but how silly?). I was amazed at the ten + degree increase that occurred in one ten or fifteen mile stretch...and probably not coincidentally, it was an area that had a long history of farming...farmers decades ago knew what they were doing...
     

  3. Hip_Shot_Hanna

    Hip_Shot_Hanna Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Texas
    I am pretty sure that we do live in a microclimate. I wonder if it is influenced by the lake that is three miles away. At any rate, we tend to be almost a full ten degrees cooler than towns either side of us about twelve miles each way.

    The predicted low this time of year for instance last night was 45, we were at 36 this morning. Tonight's low prediction is for 36, so we'll see!

    We were also ten degrees cooler than my parents place only thirty miles away, all summer long. Not that 104 is cool, but it beats 114!
     
  4. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    I am of the opinion that the area I live in has a micro climate.

    With many winter storms Wichita some 35 miles SE away as the crow flies gets ice, Lyons 30 miles NW gets snow, and Hutchinson setting in between gets a nice rain. Sure works for me.

    Thunderstorms, often with rain, hail, and sometimes tornadoes will come as close as 8 miles before they disintegrate.

    Often we will have temperatures 4 degrees or so warmer in the winter than surrounding areas and 3-4 degrees cooler in the summer. Works for me.

    As to rainfall, my farm a short distance north and east of the city proper almost always gets a half inch more rain than the interior of the city. Perhaps the heat coming off of the pavement, the thermal mass of homes, etc. prevents the fall of moisture with drier air, heat rising, etc. Whatever, but I enjoy the extra rainfall.

    Micro climates? You bet I believe in them.
     
  5. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,154
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    We live in flat farm country. The wind tends to move very freely at times. The farm where we live had one lone maple tree out in front when we bought the place in 1970. We set out over 200 evergreens around the perimeter of the buildings. We also set out about a dozen shade trees within the surounded area. We don't have snow drifts around the buildings. In the coldest winter days it always feels warmer because we don't have a wind chill until we venture outside the windbreak trees around the perimeter. Walking out onto the road to get the mail can be a real shock on a freezing windy day. I have no way of knowing what the savings may possibly be on our heating bill. The trees also seem to retard early and late frosts..
     
  6. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,184
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Canada - Zone 5
    I live on a small lot - less than 1/4 more than 1/8 acre. In that small area we have 4 distinct microclimates. We have woodland, wetland, arid, and grassland. Each reacts differently than the surrounding areas and we've had to adapt our gardening to meet those climates. We're still experimenting with various crops in various locations.
     
  7. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    I don't, but just a few miles south along the river is one zone warmer microclimate and a totally different soil type. They grow market gardens there they have to irrigate because of the fast soil drainage, and it's warmer there before the first frost date in fall by about 2 to 3 weeks than where I am situated less than 20 miles difference.
     
  8. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    [​IMG]
    Banana Trees in leaf in Vancouver, October. That's the Burrad Bridge, English Bay in the background, False Creek in the for ground

    Near the water at English Bay -- there are rows of Palm trees and banana trees -- the City covers the banana trees in the winter.

    There are even Palm trees near office spaces -- growing like crazy. This is CANADA for gosh sake.

    Yes micro climate, by the water, 200 -- 300' wide by 5 miles long. And rain is 1/2 of what it is 5 miles away against the mountains -- how about that?

    Alex
     
  9. rileyjo

    rileyjo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,278
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Location:
    the other side of the river
    In 2005, I lived in central Ontario. Today I live 5 hours north of there.
    Because I am right on the shore of the mighty Huron, my climate is tempered. In my town I've seen Star magnolias thriving and awesome blue oak leaf Hydrangeas. These plants wouldn't have had a prayer in my former location even though it is considered a half zone milder.
     
  10. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,787
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Location:
    IL, right smack dab in the middle
    My home is situated at the crest of a creek bluff and on the edge of the woods. In the summer light winds are multiplied by a facter of 2 or 3 so a 2-5 mile wind will give a nice breeze. Bigger winds hit the hill hard enough to send the wind over the house so a 20 mph wind in a winter storm results in a flat calm at the house.
     
  11. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,787
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Location:
    IL, right smack dab in the middle
    Had a place in Alaska that was where two mountain valleys(mat-Su) met I often left the house in a calm and had a good wind a mile awayandbut the time I got to town the flags were snapping goinghome theprocess reverssed
     
  12. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,285
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Location:
    Delaware
    Alex, Those banana and palm trees in Canada are so cool! Thanks for the picture.

    Kitaye-It sounds like your lot may be able to grow more of a variety than most large farms. Considering that your adapting, you must see it more as a challenge than a handicap.

    Uncle Will in In-It looks like you created your own microclimate when you planted those trees. I suppose when you stop the wind in an area it also affects the humidity and temperature.

    Windy in Kansas-That additional rainfall may make a big difference especially surviving a drought.

    Hip Shot Hanna-Your the cool place to be in the summertime. I'll take 104 degrees over 114 anytime.

    Mustard-I like those temperature guages in cars. We get alot of black ice here and it tells us when and where the roads are freezing so we can slow down.
     
  13. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,184
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Canada - Zone 5
    You are right, we do not consider it a handicap. When we can work out which crops grow best in each area I consider it a real blessing, especially when we can produce more volume and variety on our lot compared to some larger gardens we've seen in the area.
     
  14. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,354
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Location:
    Fairfield, Iowa
    I live on my ten acre tree farm,the timber is very thick,as it's a little overdue for thinning,and my house and gardens are in a little patch cut out of the middle of the acreage.For sure,it's a microclimate.I'm right on the 8a/8b line,but my gardens think they are in zone 9.I aint sure how much it affects how early I can plant,but it makes a BIG difference in how late into the season the gardens grow.I have summer crops goin' long after my neighbors do.In the wintertime,it's very often that I have a heavy dew on the lawn,but my neighbors have heavy frost.A microclimate can make a bid difference.
     
  15. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,219
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    Location:
    Alabama
    I think so, and I plan to make a few small ones for specific plants in my yard.

    We are on a SW facing slope- pretty steep- and have trees all around us- we're in a small clearing so few trees within 30 feet of house each way. Also have a lot of water coming down from above us on hill to ponds and ditches on 2 sides of us. So have driven from our house with outside temp a comfortable 70 recently and in paved city it's overwarm 80+. Might also keep us warmer from freezes- and slope will help for this. Zone 8b.

    I want to grow bananas and will see if there's anyway I can shelter them- do want them next the pool though and it has no walls above it, might put them below it sheltered by walls (but might not be enough sun). I want to grow bearded iris and fear it's way too wet here- so plan to make them a raised nutrient poor bed out in open sunny area to try to avoid rotting them away. Also trying the impossible growing hazelnuts so put them under trees since I doubt they can stand the full AL sun but maybe I should have them in frost pocket if chill hours will be their limiting factor on forming nuts.... Could always dump ice around them....

    Added: also the bottom of my property aside from really tree covered is a bit damp- right above ditch stream- and so I will tweak what can grow there that won't grow up the hill or in the sun. I'm trying all my blueberries on the slope coming up from there- should be very acidic. In a few years when I have money and time to throw away on gambling I'll try growing lingonberries.

    DD13 was wishing we could have moss in the yard and I read a GA book abut a lady collecting moss for her hanging baskets on the creek, and found same sort of moss in my bucket when I drew water from the ditch for my new camellias! And other sorts of moss scattered all over the place- just open our eyes and look around.
     
  16. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    7,219
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2004
    Location:
    Alabama
    In England I was on chalk down with lilacs all over the place including my backyard and would drive 30 miles to eastern Hampshire and see all the rhododendrons and azalea we'd never be able to grow on chalk and nary a lilac. Some of the best public gardens I visited over there the original owner had snagged a spot (of course we're talking big estates with plenty land) with both chalk and acidic soil to be able to have both types of plants. Also of course they had all sorts of 20 foot high brick walls with peaches and other delicate trees growing against them. Would still cover them with plastic or glass in winter though but the wall gave them enough summer heat to set fruit.

    Sure wish I could do a 20 foot brick wall but as DD points out sure don't need extra heat here- except maybe for those bananas I want to put in!
     
  17. Pouncer

    Pouncer Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,935
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Location:
    Alaska
    IN more notherly latitudes (where fantasymaker lived) I am positive that your relative elevation makes a huge difference, spring, fall, and winter. The higher elevations tend to stay warmer because cooler air is less dense and falls, or collects in low lying areas.

    The most obvious example of this is low lying fog banks.

    For me, this spring everyone else in the neighborhood lost every zucchini plant to an unexpected frost. My entire garden escaped unscathed. I am higher than only one of friends' garden, but evidently that 15 or 20 foot was *just* enough. But I wondered if perhaps being close to a "natural heat sink" (the swamplands behind our property) had something to do with it?
     
  18. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    A guy in the desert grew cherry trees,he would pack the trunks with dry ice for a couple weeks each year.

    BooBoo
     
  19. Pigeon Lady

    Pigeon Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,750
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    We live in a microclimate with other microclimates within it! It's the first place I've ever lived other than England where the weatherman is wrong 90% of the time!

    We live in a very deep narrow valley with a large fast creek in the bottom and hollows going off up into the mountains on each side if you know what I mean. The valley floor is at 2050 ft and the mountains on each side top out at about 2500 ft. Our house sits at the mouth of a hollow facing sw down the main valley.

    When we were looking for a farm I swore I would never live in a valley and I would never EVER live in a 'holler'! Well here we are in a holler in a valley and it's just wonderful!

    The old timers who built this place a hundred years ago definately knew what they were doing. The house and about 4 acres around it get full sun all day long! It just beats down on us. I can't grow hostas except for one small shady area on the northern end of the house. We were able to plant the garden a full month earlier than our neighbor across the "street"! ( dirt track that follows the creek) Her house and garden area is in complete shade by 3:00pm in mid summer, and noontime in the fall!

    Our house has a rock foundation so I planted many vegetables up close to the walls. Was able to grow peas right up into early November. Even though we were snowed and iced in for about 2 months last winter the Swiss Chard over wintered and has almost taken over. I have to keep cutting it back. We could eat it all year because it stays green even under the snow. This year we decided to take advantage of this and built raised beds from dry laid rock. We've had a lot of food out of that little patch of earth by the back door. I'm actually going to build a 4ft high rock wall along the edge of the lawn out back and put more raised beds along the bottom of it.

    In summer the valley is always about 10 degrees cooler than 'up on top' and of course in winter we are much colder. Some days out there it sounds like an airport with jet engines roaring all around us. It's the wind up on top of the mountains! Down here is nice and calm. It's just amazing.

    Now most of our land back into the holler is much cooler. But there's one spot about a 20 ft strip back behind the barn that's always much warmer than the rest for some reason even after the sun has left it. In January whenever I got cold working around the barn I'd go stand in this little place by the Hemlock tree to warm up.

    The other neat thing, we can drive out of the valley to our friends house 5 miles away and they are almost 1000ft below us. You can actually see the seasons change along the way. In Spring their trees will be all leafed out and ours are just budding. The species of trees are different too. They have huge Catawbas(?) down there that would never grow here.

    Pauline
     
  20. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,353
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    Virginia
    Wow, Pigeon Lady, when I get back to Virginia (in 3 years or so), will you teach me how to garden like that?! You're doing much better than I did!

    Beaux