Meeting: 30 April 2019
In April, David Cropp came to speak to us about ‘Defensive Gardening at a Time of Climate Change’. David is a retired teacher who subsequently trained as an RHS gardener at Pershore. He is the author of ‘The Lost Gardener!’
The first point David made was that over the last 1000 years there have been several periods of climate change in Britain, so we are not the first gardeners to be dealing with the associated challenges. His message was that we cannot beat it so we must learn to work with it. He suggested that we ignore gardening books and seed packets that tell you exactly when to plant. Instead we should plant when the soil conditions are right for the seeds. David suggested adapting by planting earlier if conditions allow or planting varieties that were probably not suitable for our climate in the past but will now grow quite happily, allowing us to grow fruit and vegetables ourselves that previously were only available from the supermarket or to enjoy plants in our own gardens that we only saw when on holiday.
His second point was that we are now getting periods of compressed weather, short periods of intense rain or heat and we need to adapt to this. He suggested a number of ways of doing this:
1 Leaving non-invasive weeds where they grow to prevent loss of top soil in times of heavy rain or water loss in times of excessive heat.
2 Leaving stones for the same reasons.
3 Learning to control slugs and other pests without resorting to chemicals.
The reasons for all these suggestions, in addition to prevention of soil and water loss, was simply that a void will always be refilled, whether by stones moving up from the subsoil, weed seeds germinating that blew in from your neighbour or slugs moving into a vacant patch. Thus, all of the weeding, stone picking and slug killing will have been in vain.