How Wildfires Affect our Gardens

As many people with hot, dry summers know, wildfires are almost a guarantee at some point. Depending on where you live you might see them in the news or even, unfortunately, in your own backyard. Whether or not you are affected directly by these events or just by some stray ash, you might wonder what is happening to your plants in the meantime!


The most obvious side effect from a large wildfire is the smoke that often lingers for days.

  • Most experts agree that you can still eat vegetables exposed to smoke. Just be sure to give them a good wash beforehand!
  • Plants are excellent at filtering the air, but some vegetables, such as zucchini, may experience stunted growth if exposed to smoke for a prolonged period of time.
  • Intense smoke will decrease pollinator activity. Bees don't like smoke any more than humans do! Click here to read about a method of self-pollinating your plants if you think they missed out.


The effects of ash on your garden will largely depend on the nature of the fire. If the fire is burning through wild land, mostly trees and grasses, then the ash produced will be non-toxic.


In extreme cases where fire has come in close proximity to the garden, the extreme heat might be the end for your flowers and vegetables until your next planting season. However, if you have some hardier plants like shrubs or fruit trees, then there's a good chance they will re-grow if they have some green leaves left!

If you or a loved one has been affected by the recent Carr or Mendocino Complex Wildfire, including lost property or wages while being evacuated, there are resources available! Please go to North Coast Opportunities' website for details:

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