We start again at end of winter where I find the optimism for the upcoming seasons is at its most, and the thought that my plans will be anything but perfectly executed is tucked neatly out of sight. I know that the reality is that there will be many failures alongside the successes but that’s no reason, right now, not to be eternally hopeful.
There is no denying that 2018 was different when it comes to climate and the weather. Where we basked for 8 weeks in unbroken sunshine and enjoyed the conditions that we hope for in the best continental holidays, the plants were suffering. If not for the watering that was required then just for the heat as somethings really don’t like it when the mercury rises. Our runner beans for example were appalling last year with a tiny crop going from nothing to stringy mature pods in days. Where as the corn really couldn’t have been happier, maybe a little damper around it’s feet but the sunshine was ideal.
It’s a fact that we are all going to have to adapt as the seasons slowly change, milder winters followed by wet springs are going to give us new challenges to overcome. As gardeners we rely on winter to put a dent in the inevitable onslaught of pests that emerge as it warms up, without those cold spells we’re going to find that there is a lot more to contend with than we’ve been previously used to. Unfortunately we can’t just reach for the chemicals and be done with them as this is all part of the problem. There is a fine balance that has come about through millions of years of pushing and pulling from all sides and this had resulted in things just ‘working, the trouble is that we as a species have changed that balance too fast. It’s certain that we would have naturally changed things anyway as nothing says the same for ever, it’s just the speed at which we’ve done it that has caused the issue.
Some of these changes that we need make do come at a financial cost though, but as with most things, in the bigger picture it’s really not that much. For example to use peat free compost, and you really must, you’ll pay a few pounds more for a bag. But how many do you buy? If this is 1, 2 or even 5 a year, compare that to a subscription to a TV or music service, or maybe couple of pints of beer. It’s these small changes made across a large number of people that make the biggest difference, and unfortunately something that we will be forced to adopt sooner or later.
Some of the biggest differences that we can make are simply in the way that we apply our gardening skills and what we’re happy to put up with too. I use no weed killers for example, I never have and I’m not overrun with invasive plants. Yes my small lawn has clover and moss in it, but what’s wrong with that? It doesn’t look like the adverts on TV but neither does much else in my life. I have a patio that has weeds in the cracks and a wall with self seeded sedge in it, little and often however keeps on top of this. Copious mulching on all of the garden beds and a little weeding when I see things I don’t like is enough to keep the place looking quite happy, after all a weed is just a plant that’s in the wrong place.