One thing is now certain when it comes to the climate, it's changing. That means, as gardeners, we need to prepare for more failures or we need to adapt. Adaptation can take many forms and in this chapter I explore the ones that I've chosen so far and my experience with them.

I also speculate on other adaptations that might be reasonable to pursue. I'm going to restrict myself to tools and techniques that I'm familiar with, rather than go on flights of fancy.

This isn't all doom and gloom though, a warming climate also presents some opportunities and I will cover those too.

Let's first take a look at the changes we are already seeing and can expect to see a lot more of. The cause of these changes is more energy in the climate system, which will mean more extreme weather events which we are already all too familiar with:

  1. Higher winds
  2. More rain
  3. Less rain
  4. More heat waves
  5. Colder nights
  6. Different pests and diseases

Of course some of these changes can also present opportunities, more rain in spring and summer is often a boon, a heat wave in spring is a plus for most of us, but opportunity or not, it's a change to how we garden.

The pests and diseases change is hard to pin down as there's already a lot of variation in them from year to year, but as the weather changes, different pests and diseases will thrive, so pests that were only an issue 'down south' will be making their way north for example. By way of example this year we've seen a lot more blight, a much colder spring, a much wetter summer and a warmer winter.

We've had the worst white fly I can remember and lots of heat/water stressed plants with a touch (or more) of mildew.

The challenges in more detail

Higher winds

Let's start with the obvious, higher winds often result in crop damage. I'm seeing this all the time in my seaside location. The biggest issue for me is high winds that are not in the prevailing wind direction, as they are more difficult to adapt to.

The less obvious wind related issues are:

  1. Plants expending more energy on building thick stems, that can resist the wind, but this is at the expense of the edible parts of the plant
  2. Thicker/tougher leaves that don't taste as good
  3. Dehydrated plants
  4. More water loss from the soil surface