Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Climate change is having a strong impact on nature and ecosystems, and this trend will continue to grow : high winter precipitations, floods, heat waves, droughts... This article gives a few tips to rethink and adapt your garden to the effects of climate change.
TLDR: Climate change is already having visible impacts on nature, and our gardens are not spared. Solutions exist to protect your plants from heat waves, intense rainfall or the proliferation of diseases. Permaculture and food forest practices allow you to be better prepared for the effects of climate change.
The problem of agriculture
Today, conventional agriculture, which was considered modern a few decades ago, is showing its limits. In the garden or rather on a large scale, massive plantations, exposed to the elements, cut off from a varied ecosystem, and fed with fertilisers and pesticides, are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change.
I bet you have seen in the previous years fields ravaged by disease, insects, drought or floods. You may even have noticed in neighbourhoods or regions that hundreds of trees of the same species suddenly died out after a particularly hot and dry summer. And maybe you even have a garden, which is suffering more and more each year, but is difficult to keep healthy with purely chemical or technical means such as automatic watering.
Going another direction
So, it is necessary to rethink our relationship with nature in order to work with it instead of against it. This thinking is nothing new; on the contrary, our grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the generations before them, used to think like this.
Permaculture principles are a great way to rethink your garden, depending on the specific conditions that you experience. It gives you the keys to understand how your garden works as a whole, with its content and its surroundings. It teaches you techniques to solve problems with nature itself, not chemicals and technology. Hence, it teaches you how to balance your ecosystem to yield more vegetables and fruits. If you are willing to go one step further, you will learn about food forests, that combine all the knowledge and techniques of permaculture in order to recreate a fully productive forest. I will come back to these topics in another articles to give you more information and references.
Tips and tricks
In the meantime, here are some tips on how to better protect your garden :
Protect from wind : as climate change intensifies, watch on which side strong wind gusts occur, and plant a hedge or even a double hedge to protect the vegetable garden
Protect from weeds : to protect nutrients and water stored in the soil, control weed growth in the garden by pulling them and mulching with organic material such as grass, leaves or wood chips. Additionally you can roll out the paths between the squares of the garden or cover them with gravel to limit the presence of weeds.
Protect from scorching heat : when heat waves increase, install protective covers, tie them with ropes around tree trunks or install temporary stakes. Alternatively, on really hot days, temporarily overturn crates over medium-sized, fragile plants.
Protect against pests : climate change is disrupting the natural habitats of wildlife, so more and more animals are venturing into urban centres and devouring vegetable gardens. If your garden falls prey to them, circle the vegetable plants with repellent home potions (whose smells displease small mammals); grow bulbs that small rodents don't like, such as ornamental garlic, muskari, and hyacinth; or install protective netting.
Protect against insect pests and diseases : learn how to make a range of natural, environmentally friendly homemade pesticides. Rotate crops from year to year to reduce the occurrence of diseases and pests.
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