How to make your garden resilient to unpredictable climate.txt

How to make your garden resilient to unpredictable climate

None of the popular theories for predicting climate change make sense. Each theory has at least one fatal flaw. The folks at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Neils Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen have it right: no one knows [1]. There could be further warming, or temperatures could more or less stay within normal ranges, or most problematical, temperatures could nose dive.

Having a garden that produces a substantial portion of your own food is a way of providing some food security no matter what climate Mother Nature throws at us. But if climate change disrupts society's food distribution system, your security garden has to employ special techniques to produce well under those extreme conditions.

The garden must be designed and managed to produce under the possible constraints of drought, heat, cool weather, and short growing seasons. Two other perhaps less overwhelming but serious concerns are high wind and torrential rain. A number of strategies all need to be implemented.

If possible, locate the garden where it is protected from wind. Avoid hill tops or provide wind protection with a wall, a hedge, dirt mound or whatever is most practical according to your particular situation.

Avoid low lying areas where heavy rain might mean waterlogged soil. This is especially true for high clay soils.

Deep soil is the foremost defense against drought. The thicker the topsoil the more water it will absorb when rain comes and the longer it will stay moist. Twenty-four inches is a likely good ballpark thickness. Twenty inches might be acceptable particularly for drought tolerant plants. Second to soil thickness is organic content of the soil. Increasing organic material in soil increases the amount of water the soil can absorb, especially for sandy or rocky soil. Humus increases the permeability of clay soil so that rain water soaks in instead of running off. Rotting organic material provides plant food. For clay soil the important quality of porosity is greatly improved by humus.

Other practices for dealing with drought include breaking up the top couple of inches of soil and variety selection. A stirrup hoe can be used effectively to break up soil, reducing wicking of water to the surface where it evaporates. Some drought tolerant plants include blackeyed peas, okra, sorghum, and asparagus. Plants that mature quickly before the heat and dryness of summer include peas, spinach, short season corn, and wheat.

According to circumstances, other possible drought amelioration includes providing water from roof runoff, slopes covered with vinyl sheets that direct rain water to the garden, drip irrigation, and use of mulch.

Prepare for the possibility of the climate turning cold. A portion of your food crop should be short season and cold tolerant varieties. Brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and rutabaga are especially cold tolerant. Mustard greens also have the advantage of usually being left untouched by rabbit, deer, and etc. Rutabaga are also particularly varmit resistant. Other cold tolerant crops include carrots, beets, winter wheat and leeks.

Including some crops that do well in heat and some that do well in cold increases the chances that your garden will provide food in either case. Another key to increasing food security is learning and practicing storage techniques so produce will be available year round. Canning, freezing, root cellaring and drying should all be included in an effective strategy regime against the unpredictable vagaries of climate.

Scientists have learned that climate has in the past drastically changed from one extreme to the other. Many scientists warn that such changes will continue to occur and that those changes can sometimes happen suddenly in as little as several years.

Only a brief overview has been presented here. Read more to discover other factors involved and to learn the necessary details of developing your preparedness to survive and prosper if a climate calamity occurs in your lifetime. Then put into practice what you learn. Practicing and having everything in place before climate change happens is crucial.

If you do not have the space for a garden or cannot take the time to do gardening, have a contingency plan. Relocation might be an option. Several months of stored food and water just might get you through a crisis.


Written by Alan Detwiler: rural resident, gardener, advocate of resilient living and self sufficiency. Bio at