I never actually stop gardening. I do not think about it all the time. When I talk about gardening in this context, I am considering a bigger picture. How will the garden season evolve over the next few years is one question I consider? What will a changing weather system bring to the growing season? What can we grow that will thrive and feed our families?
The weather has a direct and often an immediate impact on all living things, including the farm and the home garden. An unanticipated frost or cold snap can kill those tender annual vegetables. A prolonged dry spell may, at first, help plant roots grow as they go deeper and deep to find precious water. However, without irrigation, the crops will wither and die.
The last few years have presented the region with some unusual weather. I do not know what is to come but I do believe in being prepared.
There are steps we can take to keep our environment viable, even when the local weather presents us with challenges. For example, Synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pest killers destroy all life in the garden. In addition, the runoff pollutes streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and eventually the ocean. Use organic fertilizers.
Take care of the soil for without it the garden will not produce. The health of what we eat depends upon the health of the soil it is grown in.
Honey bees are at risk. No pollination and our available food supply shrinks significantly. Honey bees are not the only pollinators. Bumble bees and mason bees also help our food grow. Learn about them and what to plant to feed them and keep them visiting our gardens.
Growing food organically addresses these issues to a great extent but we need to go beyond organic if we are going to be able to produce, fresh, local, healthy food during a period of changing weather conditions.
Permaculture design is a holistic, nature-inspired design methodology. Permaculture design enables us to create human environments which are modeled after natural process and drawing upon both modern and indigenous technologies.
Smart gardening involves understanding that repeating the same activities year after year, in a changing environment, will lead to frustration and failure.
The smart gardener knows how to create a garden that is resilient, or, in other words, can withstand the drastic shifts in local conditions. Growing food, for many gardeners, is often repeating the same actions year after year, even if the previous year was a disaster due to too little or too much rainfall, cooler temperatures than expected and so on.
The grower continues to plant the same annual plants. The exact location of the plants may be shifted. Tomatoes and potatoes are grown in a different spot than the previous year, but they are still grown.
The use of annual food plants means the beginning of the gardening season can be a busy one. Backyard gardeners are often rushed, trying to prepare the soil and get the plants in on time.