The banner of climate change is all around us, with people protesting en mass and environmentalists like Sir David Attenborough appealing earnestly for us to act. The issue is becoming so prevalent across all forms of the media that people are at risk of becoming so overwhelmed by the negatives, that they may begin to feel unable to respond.
One of the many ways we can focus on doing what we can, is by identifying practical solutions, such as following the well-publicised and valuable ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra.
But the effect on our plants and crops is another of the challenges created by the extremes of weather that are associated with a changing climate. The issue is how can our future sources of food deal with increased rain and soaring temperatures.
“Work with nature rather than against it”
During an interview with gardening journalist Kim Stoddart, she spoke about positive solutions to these volatile conditions, which are featured in her new book, The Climate Change Garden. She says the answer lies in something we used to practice many years ago - wildlife gardening. “Work with nature rather than against it,” says Kim.
“It’s no longer gardening as usual,” she explains. “Seasons that we took for granted before, and the success of certain plants, we can’t take for granted anymore. There are going to be milder winters and prolonged periods of heat. Climate change is about greater extremes of weather and it’s happening right now.” The current situation should focus us all on adapting, pre-thinking and pre-planning.
Grow your own to help with future food security
“We are going to see more pests and a wider array of them, because our milder winters mean they are able to reproduce more.” Extremes mean plants become stressed and weakened. “The immediate impact of the heat wave of 2018 was that salad crops stopped growing.” Prices rose as supplies dropped and Kim says that growing your own produce is one way to help with future food security.
Kim believes the ideal way to work with nature is to garden organically, instead of spraying with chemicals. Here are some other tips to respond to the effects of climate change:
- Encourage insects such as ladybirds, which feed on aphids, by having uncultivated wildlife patches.
- Have a diversity of plants in your garden. That way, if weather extremes affect one type of plant, you will still have crops of fruit, vegetables and herbs from the others.
- Having as many plants as possible in your garden will help to absorb excess rainwater. Resist the urge to concrete over your garden spaces.
- Whatever you grow in your own garden adapts to the soil and conditions. Using the seeds from these plants will be more hardy and produce better results than if you continually buy in new.
- Trees and hedging can shield plants from extreme winds.
- Water butts are a great way to harvest rain for your garden during periods of high temperature.
Our readers can purchase Kim’s book at the discounted price of £12 by entering coupon code GIS12 at: www.climatechangegarden.uk
Kim runs gardening courses and reinvests profits into her social enterprise, which provides therapeutic gardening opportunities for a range of marginalised groups. She has opened her gardens to the public via: www.greenrocketcourses.com. She runs courses on polytunnel, climate change and grow-your-own. Ten percent of the net profits from the sale of The Climate Change Garden will go to the charity Garden Organic.
This summer, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report produced by 107 scientists from 52 countries. It stated that the rise in global temperatures, linked to increasing pressure on soils, is risking food security for the whole planet. People living in areas of degraded or ‘desertificated’ soil are being especially affected by climate change.
With the world population set to reach 10 billion by the year 2050, the report urged countries to commit to better land management and to reduce waste. Some 820 million people, about one in nine, suffer from hunger, whilst elsewhere up to a third of food produced is lost or wasted. Sustainable land use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions continues to be the advice that we all need to heed. Vist www.ipcc.ch for more information.