July – mid season challenges

24th July 2022

Sorry, it’s a ranty one!

It’s been an exceptionally dry year here so far. We are having to irrigate in the perennial field, which is something we never normally do, as we have a clay soil under weed control fabric, which tends to keep the moisture in. On top of that last week saw the highest ever temperatures, just above 40 oC, on record in our region, accompanied by some strong winds. Some crops have been badly damaged by the drought and temperatures – antirrhinum, cornflowers and sweet peas in particular hate such heat. So we have picked our battles and concentrated on keeping our late summer flowers alive and healthy – the dahlia, zinnia, cosmos, amaranthus, statice and helichrysum. The chrysanths also look good and I’ll cut the first china asters later today.

On a positive Jack has grown the best crop of chillis and peppers, in part due to the extra sunshine we’ve been getting.

There can be no doubt that climate change is having a significant impact on our planet. I get very frustrated with those who either bury their heads in the sand and ignore, or even worse, dispute the evidence. During the heatwave I saw many articles about how we need to adapt to new hotter summers in the UK, by perhaps installing air conditioning as standard in new homes. Awesome. Like bandaging up a gangrenous wound. Running air conditioning requires a lot of energy and if this energy is coming from non-renewables then we are just adding to the problem and creating more pollution and pumping extra CO2 into the atmosphere. Why not make it standard to fit solar panels to new homes? Or electric car charging points? (I could go on and on, the endless creation of unsustainable, thoughtless new build housing estates drives me nuts.)

To those people (with the exception of those who are medically vulnerable) who jumped in their petrol cars, drove to the retail park, and bought an electric fan to run night and day during the heatwave, shame on you! Putting your own comfort for a couple of days before the environmental and financial cost of your actions it just an example of the unthinking, self centred actions that contributed to the mess we are in. I bet many who did this would happily jump on a plane and head off to somewhere like Lanzarote for two weeks in the summer and lay happily toasting themselves on the beach for days on end.

Here is a scary thing, as a grower and arable farmer I see how difficult it is in our ever changing climate to keep plants alive and yielding well. The past few years we’ve seen crop yields compromised by flood, drought, pesticide resistant insects, herbicide resistant weeds and disease. Farmers are actively changing their practice to become more sustainable with their use of chemicals, fertilizers and cultivation techniques. Climate change is and will continue to affect what and how much food we can grow. I don’t know about you, but I’m rather fond of eating. Adapt we must, but while we are adapting please can we also take steps to limit (maybe even reverse) the climate change that is the underlying cause?

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