“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” Joel Salatin
Peculiar weather we’ve had here in the UK in 2013, a long winter that stretched into May and an equally long summer period that has stretched in October. Indeed unseasonal and peculiar weather patterns are occurring all over the globe due to our changing climate. In the garden at home things are still looking colourful, their are red grapes on the vine, the hop trailers are sagging with the weight of almost ready to crop hops, and the sunflowers and nasturtiums are still showing a good deal of colour and health. There is even a good supply of autumn/winter salad leaves that are still growing as if its summer, so there has been some continuity in the utility element of the garden this year, a later and longer summer has meant a longer growing season for food and other usable plant based resources, and with this changing climate we need to begin to work with its ebb and flow as we attempt to follow and interact with the uncertain changing seasons that face us.
The drift into Autumn
And so now, the leaves are all burnished red and golden browns and autumn is finally upon us, but looking out at the south facing garden most things are still thriving, and we be left this way until the arrival of first frost, one of the reasons that this is going to happen is down to the fact that there are still some bees and other pollinators using the garden due to the flowers and the fact that the back garden is a suntrap, another reason is that most of the plants that should be dying back are still looking very healthy, and it seems pointless pulling everything up if it is still doing OK.
This years achievements in the Garden
Despite the peculiar climate change weather a few good things have occurred in the garden this year, growing Tomatillos has been one achievement that occurred due to the warmer and longer summer, and we have also managed to grow some long sweet peppers outside, which is a first in our temperate Northern climate. For me personally the best thing that I have achieved in the garden this year was the building of a twin burner outdoor rocket stove cooker from bits and pieces of rubbish that I found discarded in the alleyway, this stove is now used on an almost daily basis for cooking and boiling water for tea. Outside of the practical arrangements of the rocket stove, there is also the ethical side in that every time the stove is used there is less carbon emissions, and less dependency on the destructive utility companies. The stove will also keep down fuel bills as we slide into the winter period just as the big utility providers have announced fairly hefty price rises in power and energy.
Ideas for winter and beyond
Like many people, autumn and winter is a time for reflection for me, part of the reflection is how the garden and allotment plots can be worked differently in order to maximize output, beneficial relationships and ecological well being. Due to the economic circumstances we face, a greater emphasis and food for thought over the winter period will no doubt concentrate on growing more usable resources. Another thing that we have thought about making in relation to the stepping up of usable grown resources is building more arches around the garden from coppiced timber that we are able to source locally, due to some woodlands not being managed due to the imposed austerity measures to public spending, having these tall seven foot high arches around the garden will provide a lot more vertical growing space for grape vines, climbing beans, and hops vines. After a successful year growing food and flowers on our largely North facing front garden, we are also considering expanding this area by planting more perennial varieties that will give us a good deal of usable plant matter over a period of time.