Thursday, 18 October 2007

Early signs of improvement or Global Change?

Had my usual visit to the plot gone as planned, I would have been clearing weeds and manuring empty ground ready to put things to bed for winter but due to the ever changing climate and global warming, I was picking fresh peppers and cutting lettuce from the beds set among the tropical flowers, in full bloom mid October.
Now then, all the above should be correct if what we've been led to believe was happening had happened.This scenario has been pushed, promoted and force fed to us for a few years now but in all honesty, despite a rogue tomato plant or two, there is in fact little difference in the way our plots look now to what they did ten years ago, maybe more.
This weekend my plot was almost bare, the fruit canes were ready to be cut back, the strawberry beds ready for planting and the salad beds were empty and waiting for a good hoe attack.
I did manure one or two beds, I have cleared all my bean canes and all the old vines from them have been added to the compost heap.
In common with previous years, my squash and marrow plants are still in full swing and the parsnips are looking good. I pulled a handful of small tender and true roots for Sunday lunch, the trend for smaller sized crops is a benefit because I can spread my harvest. I still have a plentiful supply of land cress but I can't say if that is due to environmental change as I've not grown it before but judging by previous crops such as lamb's lettuce and rocket, hardier salad crops such as those can usually be picked up to and including Christmas Day itself.
I won't discount global change entirely. I had to travel across and up and down the length of the country during the floods and saw first hand the devastation that hit the rural areas but I do think that Weston has been in it's own semi tropical micro climate for so long that the rest of the UK is still just catching up.
We are lucky in that we are protected by the surrounding hills and face a warm front coming up from the Bristol Channel. Snow is a rarity here as is an early or hard frost. We had one of the driest summers of the year , despite the floods we did have,compared to the rest of the country.
If you garden on clay soil as I do, you'll have been staggered at how little rain actually soaked down into the ground during the floods. My plot stands only a few inches higher than those further along the site,but whereas they lost crops, I found that less than a fortnight after the downpour, I could hoe the soil and find it bone dry less than two inches below.
I have a strong feeling that we may see a cold spell this autumn but another mild winter will follow it, rather than the traditional cleansing frosty prolonged winters we need.
OK, off the soap box and into the skip. Or rather, not.
The site had a skip delivered for plot holders to dispose of accumulated non organic compostable waste this week. It was ordered for Friday. Now, I may be keen but I do work for my pittance still and due to the changing face of gardening and in particular, vegetable and fruit growing, a lot of my fellow plot holders do too. That meant that by the time I called in on my way home from work on Friday, the newly arrived skip was overflowing with sundry rubbish. It remained in situ over night and into Saturday but as it was already full to capacity, there was little anyone could do to be rid of any plastics and other rubbish by then. I know it is difficult to please all the people all the time, ask any politician,but perhaps more regular skips or weekend arrivals might help those of us unable to be around within the first few hours of its delivery?
I do recall in my more enthusiastic days, I did once book a day of holiday leave from work for the day the skip was due, only to find that because I arrived mid afternoon, I still struggled to get my off casts in before things started tumbling back out!
Maybe we allotmenteers are incurable hoarders!
I did manage to resist the temptation to remove some 'useful' items others had thrown out this year though so my rubbish mountain was decidedly smaller than in the past.
I will survive without the guttering sections I'm sure!
Good gardening and fine weather until next time!

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