Edington & District Gardening Club

Speakers Report for 1st June 2023

The Climate Change Garden

This month’s talk was given by Sally Morgan who lives near Wincanton and has a ¾ acre walled garden, where she carries out her organic gardening and growing.
Sally is the author of two books, The Healthy Vegetable Garden and The Climate Change Garden.

Sally set out the need to consider how we garden in the face of a warming climate. In the last 30 years the UK temperature has risen by 0.8o C. This has resulted in flowers on all plants opening earlier and produce like apple etc ripening earlier with reduced quality. Early flowering has a knock-on effect for wildlife with the flowers opening before pollenating insects are about, which in turn has consequences higher up the food chain.

In addition to the climate getting warmer the rainfall pattern has changed, giving periods of heavy rain leading to flooding, followed by extended periods of hot dry weather. She also explained the effect of the warmer winters on bulbs such as Tulips, which require sustained periods below 7oC for them to flower effectively (the chill factor). She suggested placing them in the fridge before planting to replicate a cold spell.
Sally set out ways to conserve water and prevent flooding. These included the use of water buts and dipping ponds to catch the water and the use of permeable surface such as gravel and slate etc. to allow overflows from the containers to drain into the ground, perhaps via a rain garden. This approach known as the “slow – spread – sink approach.
She also suggested that digging was not good as it released the Carbon stored in the ground and in dry weather accelerates water loss, although hoeing to keep the weeds down is OK. The best way to conserve moisture and suppress weed is by mulching and she suggested that grass cuttings make a good mulch.

Sally made the point that although we are heading for a Mediterranean climate, we were not there yet, so choosing suitable plants can be difficult.

Here are some suggestions to consider.

Vegetables: Soybeans and chickpeas
Flowers: Verbena, grasses, succulents, dahlias, Lilies and Gingers
Trees: Ash, Wild Cherry and Sweet Chestnut

10 Summary Points:

  1. Do not use peat.
  2. Don’t dig.
  3. Compost and make your own potting compost.
  4. Increase the organic matter in your soil.
  5. Slow – spread – sink.
  6. Harvest water.
  7. Plant hedges and cover walls with plants.
  8. Plant trees & shrubs for shade.
  9. Improve biodiversity.
  10. Use electric powered tools.