Potting basil Picture: SmartPlant/PA
Climate change is impacting all our gardens so we must bravely move with the times. Scottish weather has always been unpredictable but climate change has thrown our few certainties out the window.
This is good and bad. We can grow more plants in different places at more times of year, but any changes we make in when and where we plant are a gamble that could go horribly wrong. At least we can blame “the weather” for these misfortunes. You’re guaranteed a sympathetic nod of the head when you regale a poor friend with your disasters.
We now expect mild winters and springs, long hot summers and near equatorial autumns. But we forget that the one certainty about climate change is its uncertainty. Massive snowdrifts, howling wind, lashing gales, extreme record-breaking heat and drought are par for the course when you least expect them and we expect records to be broken all the time.
More winters than not are fairly mild, despite this December. I grow galangal, a semi-tender ginger-flavoured herb, in the greenhouse. A vigorous beast, it needs dividing annually and bits of hacked off tuber ended up in the compost heap last winter. It burst into life in the spring and was then planted in the garden. It coped well with the warm summer but the way this winter is shaping up I’d be surprised if this semi tender plant survives.
Spring is just as unpredictable: 2021 was cold and quite wet, while this year it marked the start of a long, dry and increasingly hot spell that persisted till the end of July.
On the plus side, I got tatties in the ground at the beginning of April, nearly three weeks earlier than 20 years ago and for the first time planted, in pots outdoors, bush tomatoes like the very early “Latah” and enjoyed a decent harvest. Tomatoes in the open ground were still a step too far here.
As another first, herbs like basil “Aristotle” succeeded outdoors in pots as did dill and coriander. As a bonus the dill avoided its usual hammering by slugs as they thankfully couldn’t stand the long drought.
As ever there are winners and losers. Watering was a nightmare during the drought and we had the constant fear that the spring for our house might run dry. Lettuces bolted in the heat and even April-sown broad beans behaved as poorly as if they’d been sown six weeks later.
There was a moment of relief in August when the heavens opened. But the mollusc brigade stirred from their slumber and slithered to the safe shelter of our broccoli and cabbages. Brassicas had burgeoned in the warm, wet early autumn. My autumn/early winter Minicole cabbages surged to the size of footballs and even started splitting in their frantic growth spurt. One or two of the late winter broccoli, Rudolph, started thrusting up their spears a few weeks ago and purple sprouting broccoli looks too big for its boots this early in its growing schedule.
Plant of the week
A bowl …….