A Personal Take on the Subject
Recently there has been much written on the subject of Climate Change and I must admit I have seen some changes in the weather in recent years, some of which has had a direct affect on some of my data.
I did not not plan to discuss this subject when I started out to revise my website, but I felt that if there is any truth in what the scientists are saying about Climate Change I thought I should air my views on the subject, particularly in areas that could affect the data in this website!
For the record; Scientists are predicting that Summers will become hotter and dryer, and Winters will be come milder and wetter over the next hundred years
I am no expert on the subject but over the last few years I would have to admit that we have had some strange weather conditions.
For example, Since the turn of the century some winters have been relatively mild, others extremely cold, some have been quite short, others quite long, some have started early, others have finished quite late. Similarly summer has often been quite cool when we would expect it to be warm, and very wet, when we would expect it to be dry.
With events like these I too would have to admit that something is happening to the weather patterns but what? and I ask myself; will it be permanent?
As a result of these recent changes in weather patterns, I have been looking at ways to make simple adjustments to my data sheets that cater for these events, this is how I have gone about it;.
My first thoughts were; How do plants know when to emerge after a period of dormancy?
As plants generally require light and warmth to grow it never fails to amaze me how plants know when to come out of their winter dormancy period.
For example in some years they emerge quite early in the year, yet in other years they appear much later,
So how do plants know when to emerge?
Personally I use data* from records of events I have experienced in the past thirty plus years which I have averaged out.
* This data can be found throughout this website!
In general terms I have found that this system has worked out quite well, but what will I do if the Scientist's predictions are correct?
Based on their predictions which suggests that gardeners/growers may be able to propagate stuff much earlier in the year which is fine if the weather patterns are consistent, but in recent years they have not been.
For example; We do not seem to have 'seasons' as we have had in the past ??
In the past gardeners/growers roughly knew what to expect in terms of weather in winter > spring > summer > autumn, but now these periods seem to have become somewhat mixed up.
What I have noticed is that; Over the last few years winters are milder, but spring does not seem to exist anymore?
For example; April can be warmer than expected which is a good thing if we do decide to propagate earlier as mentioned previously, but then the month of May gets much colder than I remember in the past.
I have also found that this abnormality in the weather has often had a direct affect on the early plantings I have made, that is it checks their growth, sometimes with disastrous results!
Add to that I have noticed that pollinators are appearing in April where before I would expect them in May.
To me; this seems to be having a damaging affect on the pollinators life cycle, and as a consequence, there are fewer of them about in succeeeding years.
I put this down to: In April they are able to survive because of the relatively mild weather and there are sufficient feeding sources, but then the cooler conditions in May delays various flora into bloom, meaning the pollinators are short of sustenance thus weakening them, and possibly killing them off.
Could this be a reason why there seems to have been fewer of them about. ?
As I mentioned previously, I have been looking for some natural sign that could take the place of the data I take from my diaries to determine my 'sowing dates', and I think I may have found one!
Over the last few years I have noticed the following;
- When the Snowdrops (Galanthus) are in bloom I am sowing various perennial / biennial subjects in heated conditions.
- When the Crocus are in bloom I start sowing my Half hardy annuals.
- When the Daffodils are in bloom I start sowing my Hardy annuals and many types of Vegetables.
- Similarly; when the Dandelions are in bloom, I know the soil is warming up , meaning I can now prepare my flower / vegetable beds ready for in-situ sowing and planting out.
- When the Dandelion seeds are setting, then I find it is time to make in-situ sowings.
- When the in-situ sown seedlings appear, one can generally plant out less hardy subjects.
At first when I witnessed these events I thought they were a figment of my imagination, but it seems they are not.
OK! some years the timings were different but then so were the weather patterns, so is it a coincidence?
For instance I noticed this year that winter was quite late, and the Snowdrops lasted much longer than normal, and conversely, the Daffodils did not last quite as long due to the following warm spell.
Then there was the other weather related event that happened with my seedlings.
I noticed that they were very slow in developing due to low light levels early on in the season, then they caught up during the warm spell that followed.
In fact; by the time my normal planting out time came around, the plants had attained a size suitable for planting out, such is the resilience of plants!
OK! It is a bit early to claim that I have found the answer to 'Climate Change', therefore my next move will be to conduct a bit of an experiment with my 'sowing dates'.
My plan next season/s is to adjust my sowing sowing dates +/- to my Snowdrops and the flowering period of other spring bulbs.
Instead of saying Week 1 commences on the 1st January (as I have always done) I will consider Week 1 to be when my Snowdrops come into flower.
Similarly; in the event that say the Snowdrops are early and the Crocus / Daffodils / Tulips / Dandelions are early or late as the case might be, then once again I will make changes to my propagating plan.
If my Snowdrops flower in mid January then I will adjust all of my normal sowing dates to happen a couple of weeks later than normal, or vice versa if they come into flower earlier.
In doing this I hope to find that my propagation timing is in line with the season, be it early or late.
Obviously I will have to monitor these events very closely, and make + / - adjustments to my 'sowing plans' in accordance with the natural events.
Another factor that I will have to consider for the benefit of the readers of my Frost Zone chart is that these potential weather changes are going to affect the 'Latest Frost dates' on it!
Perhaps in a few years time if and when weather patterns become more stable, and my records are more extensive, I might be able to produce a 'Plant Propagation programme' based on natural events. ......... Only time will tell!