Understanding your Climate – Part 2

As I said in Part 1, which covered Tropical Gardening, when it comes to gardening one of the most important things that you need to know and understand is what climate that you live in. Australia has 3 (or 4) main climate zones, tropical (and sub tropical), temperate and cool(or cold) climates. In Part 2 I am going to discuss the climate that I know best, Temperate. This is because, technically, I have spent my 26 years living in temperate zones.

I say technically because I have spent my time in two very different places, one of which could just about be defined as a ‘cold’ climate (it would be on the border) and the other which is definitely very temperate.

What makes it temperate?
Temperate regions generally exist between the tropical regions (which exist between the tropics) and the colder regions, which are generally either close to or are influenced by the poles (or other things such as mountain ranges). Another word for temperate is moderate and this is a fairly good description of a temperate zone. Generally speaking, temperate zones don’t get really, really hot (he says as Perth exits a huge heat wave!) or really, really cold. They exist in the middle. Again, this is very general.

Characteristics of a Temperate Climate in Australia

  • Hot, dry summers
  • Cool, wet winters
  • Generally 4 relatively distinct seasons, though the range in change may be small.
  • Limited to no frost

What you experience in a temperate zone may differ from this, however as a general rule this can be followed with good success.

What is the effect on gardening?
One of the major affects this has on gardening in temperate zones is the necessity of getting your garden ready for summer. Most temperate zones in Australia experience a hot, dry summer and this can really take its toll on plants. Being able to provide some make-shift summer shade may be very important for your gardens survival. It also makes mulching your garden all the more important.

One of the big upsides, from my experience with Temperate gardening, is that you can actually get most things to grow. Yes, there will be some native tropical plants that won’t do amazingly well outside of the humid conditions of the tropics, but even then they will often grow a little.

The four relatively distinct seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring have a definite effect on gardening as well. Depending on the seasonal conditions, various plants will flower at different times. Spring is a very common season in Australia for wildflowers to bloom. They pick up the warming weather as winter ends and start to bloom. These different seasons also provide conditions for fairly different vegetable crops. To get broccoli to grow well, for example, you really have to plant them in autumn for a winter harvest. Planting them in spring will usually see them keel over when the summer sun starts to heat up.

As long as you choose your plants well, take note of how much sun they will get in summer, provide the appropriate shade and water, gardening in temperate zones is quite easy and fun!

All my best articles have been collected into what I’m calling the ultimate gardening toolkit – make sure you take a look, there’s a heap of great gardening advice available. I’ve also published a series of gardening ebooks that you might be interested in. Good luck!