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We enjoy the company of coffee in the morning on a daily basis. The morning doesn’t start unless we’ve had a cup of coffee in our system, making us coffee lovers properly function. Coffee has become a daily necessity for some people, and due to this, coffee is used in many other products such as coffee ice cream. Of course, people have experimented on coffee as a fertilizer, giving more nitrogen to your compost, therefore, speeding decomposition. But how does adding coffee grounds affect the soil when added directly? Will this endanger your soil and plants? Are they helpful in the growth of tomatoes, berries, and other fruits and vegetables? Is applying coffee grounds effective or not?
If you look deep enough in the internet, you would be able to find thousands of websites and blog posts that recommend using coffee grounds as a nutrient giver, cat repeller, appeal earthworms to your soil, helps the friendly bacteria, slug repeller, prevent weed infestation, and many more functions that if I mention all of them, we will run out of space to write. However, only a handful of them is accurate and useful while some are just myths that people spread around. To make everyone’s soul be put to rest, we will examine how does coffee affect the soil and the growth of plants.
Using coffee grounds as a compost
If you don’t know, coffee grounds contain 10% nitrogen abundant proteins that are important for seed germination and plant growth. The carbon to nitrogen ratio of these coffee grounds has a minimum of 11:1 that is perfect for the soil. The problem lies in the common myth that coffee grounds are by nature, acidic, it would lower the pH level of the ground, therefore making your soil more acidic that is needed by plants which thrive on acids such as rhododendrons, blueberries, and many more from the Ericaceae family. It is however not proven to be a hundred percent true, and there are still researches conducted about the effect of coffee grounds on the acidity level of soils.
According to recent researches, adding coffee to composts varies in results that range from a mildly acidic fertilizer of 4.6 to an alkaline compost having a pH level of 8.4 which is pretty alarming. Also, in the conducted research, the coffee grounds that were directly added to garden soils have found that there was instability of pH levels of the decomposing properties. However, there was an increase in acidity levels in which the pH level of the soil decreased not too long after the addition of coffee grounds into the compost.
Coffee grounds are, however, yielding positive results when used as a mulch on garden soil. Just like with any other mulch found on the market, they help recede the soil temperature as well as the moisture level in the ground. Using coffee grounds also has a benefit of tethering the pesticide chemicals and other toxic metals that prevents them from spreading through the surrounding environment and keeping the pollutants that heavily damages our waterways. There are also promising results when it comes to increasing essential nutrients that every plant should have such as iron, zinc, and nitrogen. You only have to be careful when it comes to the various pH levels that every coffee bean has, since not every coffee bean has the same acidity levels that are significantly affected by the method of brewing that is used before placing on the soil.
Is it necessary and beneficial to add coffee grounds directly on your garden soil?
If the coffee ground is added straight to the soil, they are broken down by the microbes found locally. Substances such as humus are created when decomposed by the microbes that are significant to increase the quality of the soil regarding nutrients needed by plants. Don’t worry about the coffee grounds applied on top of the soil, as earthworms use this as a food source and therefore they have to pull them deeper into the ground, enhancing the quality of your soil.
Be sure to know the needs of your plant since there are plants that hate abundant nitrogen. Examine carefully what kind of plant you have, understand its basic chemical needs and prevent them from being poisoned by the high nitrogen contained in the coffee grounds.
As mentioned above, coffee grounds help subdues seed germination in most plants while restraining the growth in some. It is due to the highly toxic materials produced the moment that the coffee grounds decompose that could be accountable for the weed suppression that could severely harm your soil. Since there’s still no concrete evidence of these effects, be sure to never add coffee grounds straight into the ground or use this as a compost where seeds are being germinated.
Does coffee grounds control bacteria in the soil?
There have been studies that resulted in coffee grounds restraining fungi and bacteria such as Sclerotinia, Pythium, and many other parasitic oomycotes. In recent researches about controlled conditions on selected plants that use coffee grounds as compost mix, they have shown to be able to prevent some fungi and bacteria in instituting in the soil. These are proven only on beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinaches so be careful when using them on other crops.
With all of the data gathered, we can safely conclude that we could only use a maximum of 20% of coffee grounds on total compost volume and never exceed more than that to prevent any problem arising. The safe threshold of 20% is enough for suppressing bacteria and other parasites that could be found in your soil while not increasing the pH or acidity level of your soil. Take note that the pH levels vary on the ecosystem and environment of your plantation.
It is safe to use coffee grounds as compost but never exceed from the recommended volume since they compact quickly and block air and water pathways. Use them with other organic fertilizer to prevent this problem from arising. Mix coffee grounds with other compost to maximize the result. I hope that you’ll have happy farming after enjoying a cup or two of coffee!
One of the most natural herbs to grow is Chamomiles. They are among the herbs who self-seeds every year and fortunately, they also act as hosts for insects that are beneficial.
Since it is one of their nature to self-cultivate themselves, this can be a problem since they tend to grow liberally everywhere which makes it a task for you to keep them taken care of and well-maintained.
Varieties of Chamomile
For centuries, Chamomile is an ancient herb that is used for medicinal and culinary use. Its existence can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. Its great aroma is even utilized in other cultures – they are thrown on floors for it gives off an aroma when it is being stepped on.
There are two common varieties of Chamomile: Roman and German Chamomile. Roman chamomile is perennials that grow from the range of 3-6” and usually spreads. German chamomile, on the other hand, leans on cool weathers and is an annual plant that grows to almost 36” tall. Both variety experience almost no pesticidal severe problems.
According to researchers, the medical uses of Chamomile include inflammation, menstrual disorders, muscle spasms, hay fever, insomnia, ulcers, rheumatic pain, infections, and other illnesses.
Some insects can damage your garden. However, there are also insects that can help and are helpful for you such as flies, beetles, and other species. Chamomile is proven to host lady beetles, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps. These insects consume other harmful pests which would give you an easier time when having to deal with pesticidal problems.
You can grow chamomile from seeds or starter plants. You can plant it in well-drained soils. You can either place them under full sun or part shade. However, they grow best when situated under full sun. It is advised that you use soil that is a bit dry since it slowly grows when you place it in a wet environment. In growing season, they usually spread by creeping steps that would eventually root while increasing. Hence, they reproduce and plant themselves.
You can harvest chamomile whenever its flower petals have already turned white, and its center is bright yellow. Late evening or early morning are ideally the best time to collect them since the oils in the blooms are more likely to be concentrated if the weather is cold. Also, it is best for you to harvest them at least two days after rain for chamomiles tend to hold onto moisture for a while.
There are available chamomile rakes that can help you in harvesting them since German and Roman chamomile are usually a hard task to do. However, they can be expensive, and it usually takes up more of your time if compared to the traditional and manual way of harvesting.
When you have finally harvested them, don’t wash them with water because this will damage the herb, risking it to be soaked which would give you another hard time to dry it quickly. If it the harvested plant is inhabited by insects, you can have them sit outdoors in a shady area.
Drying And Storing Them
You can dry the chamomile flowers in a shortened shopping bag for one to two weeks. If you want to check if the flowers have correctly dried, you can check if they have crumbled into powered or if they are dry when you rub them with your hands. After that, you can store them in a clean tin.
Whenever the season of spring comes, every social media platform usually gets flooded with articles and blogs that suggest the use of Epsom Salts to improve your lawn and garden. These posts compel you to believe that Epsom Salts can significantly help your garden have bigger blooms, better germination, bushier shrubs, greener grasses, and even on pest problems. However, all of these claims have no scientific bases. There are no clear pieces of evidence that support these claims as they are only considered to be myths.
Though they are called “Epsom Salts,” they are not related to the salt that we are very well acquainted with. The sodium chloride table salt is in no way similar with Epsom Salt which is composed of sulfate and magnesium. The word “Epsom” is derived from an area in England where the item was first discovered in the spring.
There are a lot of articles which claim that using Epsom Salts would increase a plant’s magnesium and sulfur level which would help generate better blooms. However, some soils are deficient in sulfur or magnesium except for soils that are sandy since they experience a lot of rainfall. As for fertilizers, the concept “more is better” is false for each plant has specific amounts of elements, and the ones that they don’t take up usually gets washed away as pollutants. Sometimes, when a plant has is exposed to too much potassium in the soil, there would be a lack of magnesium and adding more of it won’t alleviate the problem at all. A plant only requires small amounts of magnesium for it to achieve excellent help.
Sometimes, Epsom Salts are used in massive scale cultivation or commercial agriculture whenever the soil shows a deficiency in magnesium.
When it comes to planting tomatoes, using Epsom Salts is discouraged. Tomatoes lack calcium whenever Epsom Salt is used because magnesium usually competes with calcium.
There are a lot of advertisements which claim that Epsom Salts can’t be overused since it is highly soluble which is another false claim. Chemicals that are highly soluble gets washed away, and when they do, they get to wash up in waterways other properties which contradicts the claim that they just disappear from the environment.
In response to the claims that Epsom Salts can aid in pest problems, no scientific evidence supports it. In fact, test and experiments were conducted, and it was concluded that Epsom Salts have zero effect in killing any pest.
When it comes to germination: seeds no longer need anything to germinate. The use of fertilizer or any item that claims to aid germination is highly unnecessary since seeds already have this mechanism.
Articles who claim that the use of Epsom Salts can improve the health of shrub and health are not only untrue but are also potentially harmful. When used as a foliar spray, they may, in fact, cause leaf scorch on your plants and trees.
Epsom Salts, as far as science is concerned, is unnecessary when it comes to garden and lawn care. If you are eager to fix the problems of your garden, it might be better to have it checked to know what it requires and what items you should use to aid it.
Peonies are one of the most wonderful flowers, which bloom during spring time and bring color to any garden. Peonies are under the Paeonia class, in the Paeoniaceae family, which are native to Asia, North America and Europe. There are almost 33 distinguished types and are one of the most well-known flowering shrubs that grows in temperate regions.
Peony flowers are herbaceous perennials. Sometimes, they are woody shrubs with scent and are always colorful bearing the colors red, purple, white, yellow or pink (sometimes a combination of colors). This kind of flower is very well-known similar to cut flowers and they can be bought in B`elfast florists shops during late summer and spring.
When is the greatest time to plant Peony flowers?
Peonies can be planted in late October or September during the fall. The only thing that these types of flower require is a lot of soil, which is drained well, and plenty of sun. They grow well in places with at least some winter weather since they chill is essential for them to form their buds. Also, it is great to plant peonies during the fall season prior to the first frost. It is noticed that those peonies, which are planted during spring time, usually lag one year behind compared to those flowers planted during the fall.
Growing tips for peonies
Peonies are good to go in a humus-rich and a neutral pH spoil that drains well. The moment you plant them, you can supply some organic material surrounding the soil and after you have planted it, add compost surrounding the root zones for a careful feed. To encourage blooms, you can also consider adding Bonemeal.
Peonies are generally not that high maintenance when you select the right location for them. Supply them plenty of sunshine and shelter them from harsh winds. Peony flowers can grow in limited shade, however more sunshine indicate more blooms. If you plan to plant more than one, you can space them for at least 3 to 4 feet apart from each other to provide them room to grow—since they will spread eventually—and enough air circulation to stay their foliage dry.
Moreover, you can buy bare-root tubers or separate 3 up to 4 years old Peonies to acquire the tubers. As you plant the peony tubers, select a location that is sunny and drains well. Then, dig a hole approximately 2 ft. deep and 2 ft. across. Place the tuber about 2 inches underneath the soil’s surface with its eyes facing upwards.
In terms of fertilizers, peonies do not need them that much. Although the moment you notice that the blooms are not as sturdy as they are supposed to be, after their bloom cycle has ended, add a compost or a well-rotted manure surrounding the root zone only once in every few years. Peonies are heavy so they have the tendency to lay down, Hence, to support the plant, almost all gardeners add a three-legged metal Peony ring.
There is no doubt about the capabilities of organic soil and what it could do. But having a certified organic soil is different than the organic soil that most people think about, as there is a thin line that separates these two.
As we progress towards modernization, there is also an increase in demand for processed foods since they are convenient to use. Overusing of hazardous pesticides and fertilizers have been a common practice in farms to produce more yields within a short period. As of this moment, the spread of genetically modified seeds and other harmful additives contained in the containers of our processed foods is causing mayhem within the society when it comes to healthy food. Should we encourage this behavior of using dangerous chemicals in producing food for quicker yield or should we keep them fresh and organic? This is only one of the questions that you commonly hear when it comes to this topic.
What people fail to realize is that they are arguing even though they lack the appropriate knowledge about this topic. People often bypass the difference between “organic” and “certified organic” thinking that they are just the same, the latter being a more decorated term. The difference here is the context of the words in which farmers who are looking for organic soil may need to take care of finding what they specifically want. For farmers that are looking for certified organic soil, they have to meet the certification standards that their country set for them.
What is “Organic”?
The accepted definition of organic is that it’s a substance of animal or vegetable origin, referring to living organisms or compounds that contain carbon. It is characterized by a systematic arrangement of parts, fitting together harmoniously as a whole. If the substance is organized and arranged systematically, then it’s organic.
What is “Certified Organic”?
Now that we defined the term “organic,” we must also examine what is “certified organic” and how does it differ from organic. For starters, certified organic is a level ahead of organic, meaning that it has all the components that an organic soil has, and it also contains more. It is a substance derived from living organisms or compounds that contain carbon, arranged systematically and complies with the recommended methodology for every stage of organic and biodynamic commodity preparation. The USDA listed the minimum requirements for farmers that want to brand their merchandise as “organic” or biodynamic,” meaning that if the soil does not meet the requirements, then they would not be able to label their products as certified organic. If you want to use soil that met with the standards of USDA or by your country, take note of buying products labeled with “Certified Organic.”
There is a need to appropriately choose the appropriate soil nutrient balance that is needed for the type of plant you have, making sure that your plant has a proper diet just like you do!
A quick trip to your local supplier or Google search to ask for the appropriate nutrients that the specific type of plant you have is recommended for better yield in the future. The organic soil you find in the market varies from each other when it comes to nutrient since some soil may even lack appropriate nutrients and has to be enriched further for maximizing results. Some soils are already rich, wholly organic, and correctly met the standard of nutrients that your plant needs.
In the end, the three most significant factor for having a successful garden is the type of soil you use, proper condition for every kind of plant, and you. You have to be sure if you want to use certified organic soil or just plain organic soil and meeting the required conditions of your plantation such as nutrients, sunlight exposure, temperature and many more. But you have to take note that what matters most is your attitude when it comes to planting crops. At the end of the day, you are the one who’ll choose the type of soil to use and how to take care of the vegetables. Make sure that you’ll have a successful and bountiful harvest and happy farming!
In the past decades, researches that focused on the comparison of conventional, GMOs, and organic agriculture have been conducted to assess its effect on the aspect of economics, agriculture, and nutrition.
Organic agriculture does not only concern itself with the absence of toxic chemicals in the production of food, but it also forwards the practice of soil stewardship. It supports the cultivation of good quality of soil and the reduction of weed and pest pressures with the use of a wide variety of techniques such as composting, crop rotations, and cover crops. Through this, nutrients are being put into the soil which increases the living organisms in it, and would eventually nourish the plants and food that we would then consume.
Here are many reasons as to why it is a good idea:
- Cost: Farmers that practice conventional and GMO agriculture are finding it harder to generate income from the method. They experience an increase in the costs of production since special and patented items are required to cultivate the food items, another burden for they feel the need to expand their land. Instead of using new technology to provide ease on our end, these innovations have instead offered more inconvenience for our farmers concerning costs.
- Avoid the use of pesticides: A lot of modern diseases and illnesses are likely to be caused by chemical exposure from our food. Its effect is reflected in infertility, congenital disabilities, cancers, and others. Many harmful chemicals are present in pesticides, which are also harmful to human health.
- Healthier quality of life: In light of the previous reason, this would also allow individuals to maximize their benefits and advantages of eating healthy. Organic agriculture paves the way for healthy soil, which would eventually open the path for healthier food for people.
- Environmental Concerns: It has been decades that scientists have declared that there is an urgency to change our means to save the planet. Greenhouse gases are one of those concerns. Though there are already many technological efforts that help the planet aid the growing problem; however, most of them are just band-aid solutions. The most efficient, intelligent, and long-term solution would be to use nature. Plants are absorbing atmospheric carbon due to photosynthesis. This nature’s mechanism also provides us with the food that we all need.
Ideally, if plants are being cultivated and properly taken care of on a massive scale, its significant contribution in helping eradicate the harmful effects to the planet would also be extensive.
The best time to plant spring flowering bulbs is the season of Fall, and every gardener knows that. However, trees and shrubs might also be one of your concerns when it comes to planting and transplanting in this type of season.
In Fall, the weather is cooler if compared to the season of Spring. Aside from the convenience of doing activities in the garden without the burden of having to endure extreme heat from the sun, plants thrive in fall temperatures. Plant roots continue to grow until soil temperatures decrease below 45 degrees, which means that plants have plenty of time to develop before they become dormant. For trees, shrubs or flowers, this is important for they will most likely bloom early in the season of spring. Aside from this, plants will less likely experience transplant shock due to the factor of them being less probably subjected to extreme heat exposure.
Experts say that if you plant in the fall, the root growth of your plants will provide them the allowance of having water during hot temperatures in the spring. With this, the stress and chance of having your plants wither when transplanted are significantly reduced, and you will have more chance of thriving in your garden.
Basic rules when it comes to planting and transplanting:
- If you intend to do some transplanting, make sure to dig the plant deep so as not to damage the roots. Be careful when doing so, and take note that some plants’ roots extend as much as 1ft from the drip line. However, every plant’s length of roots differs that’s why it’s important to know their differences.
- The hole that you wish to transfer the plant should at lead be as twice as wide as the root ball of the plant. Be sure that you use good soil and fertilizer, and water it after the process.
- It is better for your plant’s health if you use organic fertilizer. Start 6 inches from the plant’s crown up until the drip line.
One of the perks of growing and transplanting plants in the fall is the fact that nurseries often offer trees, shrubs, and flowers at lesser prices since they’re hard to take care in the winter. Make sure to get the best deal and best picks for your garden, and keep your plants thriving and healthy.
To grow a garden in an urban landscape, though a bit hard, is still possible.
There are a lot of advantages when you have your garden where you can grow your vegetables, herbs, and fruits. One of them is that you can assure yourself if you are conscious when it comes to the number of pesticides and chemicals used, that the homegrown items are safe and well-maintained. Aside from this, fruits and vegetables are higher in nutrients and vitamin content when it’s freshly picked from your garden.
The advantages do not only revolve around having fruits and vegetables that have better quality. Having your garden will also increase your physical activity. Also, you can teach your entire family, and acquaint your children about the importance of caring for the environment.
If you reside in an urban area and want to make your garden, you need not worry for there are steps that will help you. For you to have the perfect garden in your residence, you should take extra precaution and actions to ensure garden sustainability. Below are a few steps and tips for you to achieve your garden.
Know Your Plant Zone
It’s crucial to know the critical factors that might affect the type of plant that you wish to grow or if the plant will thrive on the kind of environment that you want to situate it. Research about your location’s weather or other factors such as rainfall, humidity.
Know Which Plants to Plant
Another important thing that you should note is to know which plants are more likely to thrive in your area. Knowing this and following it would save you so much time and costs that’s why it’s essential for you to know this before deciding on which plants to put in your garden.
Know Your Growing Season
After knowing if your plant is appropriate for the zone that you are it, you should next determine how long is your plant’s growing season. Some plants differ on how much they can tolerate heat or cold better; therefore, it is necessary for you to place them at a given timeframe that would now disrupt their health.
Watch Out on the Weather
Checking on your plant zone and its details are not enough assurance that your plants don’t need extra care. You should still monitor the health of your plants, and be cautious enough to place them indoors when there’s a threat of unpredicted rainfall or heat wave.
Grow Plants Indoors First
It’s hugely helpful for your plant’s health if you start growing them indoors. When you finally move them outdoors, you should keep an eye on the weather to avoid them getting damaged.
Though growing and sustaining a garden in an area might require a lot of patience and care, it compensates for the fun and leisure that it can offer you. It’s quite relaxing and convenient to be able to pick the items that you want from your garden. Aside from this, it provides you with a different type of relaxing past time that the whole family can also enjoy.
Starting your plants indoors first can be an excellent idea when you’re waiting for the winter season to end or if you want to make sure that they are correctly maintained before you place them outdoors. Aside from this, you will be able to determine earlier if the plant you wish to take outdoors is compatible to the weather, or if it’s worth to be taken on full-scale.
- Starter Pots / Small Pots
- Heat Mat
- Beginning Medium (neither potting or garden soil)
- Grow Light/s
- Organic Fertilizer
- Plant Seeds
There are a lot of options to decide on how to start growing your seeds. One of them is to start planting them in trays or starter pots. If you decide to use pots, it is advised that you use plastic ones since they’re reusable, doesn’t dry out quickly, and doesn’t take out moisture away from the seeds as opposed to pots that are made from biodegradable materials.
When it comes to the medium where you allow your seeds to grow, you should use a seed starting mix instead of a potting or garden soil. This way, your medium will be sterile and lose, allowing your seed to grow in a medium where there are no bacterias and molds present.
Though it is not mandatory to have a heat mat, it would be essential for you to to get one if you situate your plants in a cool or cold environment. This way, having a heat mat will keep your plant adequately warm which would encourage the seeds to grow faster.
Having grow lights are essential since it is crucial for a plant to acquire an enormous amount of light and not just light from the side of your window. Remember the light has a massive and direct effect on your plant. The more they get the light that they need, the more they would grow excellently.
You need not worry about buying huge amounts of fertilizer since seedlings only need a tiny amount for them to germinate properly. Having a small amount of organic fertilizer would suffice.
Of course, the items mentioned above would come useless if there would be no seeds to be planted. It is essential also to take note that the seeds that you plan to plant indoors would still be sustainable if planted outdoors or if they will survive if they are being transferred. Make sure also to know further requirements of each seed to be sure that their maintenance is met with caution are care.
When sowing seeds, you should fill your tray with starting mix and lightly press down on it using your fingers. Do this until the pot is filled up to about 1/4” from the top of the pot. Then, proceed by sowing two seeds per pot, or one seed that are 1/2” apart if you are using starter trays. Don’t forget to label you pot afterward.
Lightly cover the sowed seeds with another thin layer of starting mix unless the seed packet says otherwise. Water the seed in a manner that they would acquire a little moisture does not drown them. After that, cover the pots or tray with clear plastic until the seeds germinate.
If the seeds have germinated, give them plenty of light and a small amount of fertilizer so that their growth will be great. Don’t forget to monitor them, and remember to water them just adequately.
Leafy green vegetables— such as kale, spinach and lettuce—can be harvested in any moment during their development. Nevertheless, here are some of the basics of growing leafy green vegetables:
When and where to plant leafy green vegetables?
Leafy greens take advantage from the shade during late afternoon to shelter them from the penetrating heat on afternoons. Intense sunlight might lead to high heat or sunscald; most especially prolonged heat can inhibit their development and can deteriorate their growth. Shade can be offered by some tall-growing plants such as tomatoes and corn, trees, fruiting shrubs, a garden shed or anything. If youwill plant them on the cooler times of the growing season—fall and spring—you will definitely get the best flavor that a leafy green vegetable can offer.
The spacing differs based on the mature size of every kind, or the size at which you intend to harvest them. If you choose harvesting young greens, you have to plant them close together to get the most out of shading one another from intense heat of the sun. When they fully mature, pull them out gently by the root and put them in your mouth since you can eat greens at any stage of their development, even if they’re still sprouts.
Small brassicas and lettuces perform great with simply a compost feeding. However you have to work this in prior to the plantation of the seed, while the compost may smother it. After you transplant the seedlings or the moment the plants have already germinated, you can add compost all around the plants. Make sure to not add compost against them. Once your soil has been worn-out by a heavy feeder, such as corn, prior to a year, you may want to improve your plant with organic fertilizers, which have particular nitrogen (guano) a week before transplanting or planting.
Leafy green vegetables are very tender and are all prone to all types of pests, most especially if the plants are depleted by heat or frost. Squirrels, rabbits and birds are even more deadly, hence, you must always watch out for these animals. You cannot do so much regarding the birds, although an enough layer of liquid fence, which is weekly-delivered, will somehow help in keeping the squirrels and rabbits at bay.
The greatest problem with green vegetables is in a form of mold like downy mildew. When the early season is too wet, mildew spores quickly cover the plant. Moreover, it can overtake and multiple them. There are a few organic solutions to fight mildew, however, they should be used prior to the time when a mold infects the plant.
When to harvest leafy green vegetables?
As mentioned on the first sentence of this article, leafy green vegetables can be harvested during any stage of their development. However, the tastiest ones are definitely the young greens. Also, you can harvest them according on the hardiness of the variety or depending on your local weather condition.