BDN - snow 3You’ve probably heard the old saying that snow is the poor man’s fertilizer. I know I have, and it seems obvious that if you have snow covering your garden, when it melts in the spring, your garden will have a slow and perhaps plentiful soaking, and won’t mostly run off like a good spring or summer rain.

Of course the snow also acts as a blanket, an insulation, for your garden, protecting the more tender perennials. That’s what my wife reminds me when I am either blessing the lack of snow in the winter or having words because we DO have a lot of snow.

But I understand that snow also has a fair amount of nitrogen in it, a yummy for all gardens that many gardeners and lawn care people routinely use.

Where does this nitrogen in the snow come from?  Of course our air has nitrogen in it as you probably learned back in school. I am told that plants have a tough time absorbing nitrogen from the air, but once nitrogen in the air dissolves in the snow particles, plant roots can absorb it more easily as the snow melts and soaks into your garden.

And while some of us have bad words about how many in Maine have asthma problems due to Midwest coal burning plants, this pollution has a lot of nitrogen in it.

Snow absorbs these pollution particles. Then this snow polluted with the particles melts and the nitrogen soaks into your garden soil feeding your plant babies.

So the next time you are shoveling your driveway, walks, and decks, and muttering about the snow, think of how your garden may thrive even more this coming spring because of this nitrogen loaded ‘poor man’s fertilizer.’