If you’re anything like me, you love to garden in the spring, summer, and fall, and spend the winter thinking about next year’s garden. Since moving to Merritt, I’ve run into some particular challenges that I’ve had to overcome and wanted to share how I did that. 

Different parts of the world are divided into specific hardiness zones that describe the annual low temperature. According to the BC Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone, Merritt is in zone ‘5B,’ which means that our winter temperatures are as cold as -2oF. I use the zone as a guide on what plants to buy when thinking about perennial plants (plants that come back year after year). To make use of this chart as an avid gardener, I try to pick plants that are rated as zone 5 or below as the lower zone number indicates that the temperatures are colder, for example zone 4 gets as cold as -30F and zone 6 only -1oF. 

One of the most challenging parts of preparing my garden over the last few years has been that Merritt is semi-arid, meaning it is considered a semi-desert. It is windy year round and in the summer it gets very hot and dry which can be hard for certain species of plants. The best way I’ve found to combat this is by planting taller, bushier crops on the perimeter of my garden to create shade and shelter from the typical Merritt wind. The shade from the taller plants allows water to fully soak into the ground rather than evaporating in the heat, and they help stop the leaves from drying out and getting burnt. 

The last thing that has saved my garden is creating a proper compost pile. Composting is more of a science than I realized, but it was a challenge I accepted gratefully. There are two types of materials that need to go into the compost; browns like cardboard, dried leaves, sticks, shavings, and greens like food scraps, lawn clippings, and manure. There is a particular ratio of two brown to one green. This ensures that your compost has a lot of carbon and a little bit of nitrogen, which allows lots of airflow to decompose the organic material faster, and stops it from smelling up your backyard. 

Merritt presented unique challenges to starting a garden and I learned much more than I expected to when I started, from sunlight exposure, to soil pH, but it has been worth every second of learning.