24 July 2007

"Oh the Climate She Is a' Chaaaangin'"

(Apologies to Bob Dylan)
Something unnatural's going on. Its Winter. The very middle of Winter.  And yesterday I harvested a (Lime Green Salad) Tomato off a plant left over from last Summer.
A Japanese White Eggplant has just fruited.  Normally Eggplants don't make it through the Winter, here.  The climate is just that much too cool for their liking.
Normally seedlings are safe from cutworms at this time of year.
The volunteer Tomatoes popping-up all over the veggie patch never make it as far as growing their true leaves.  This year I have some that have reached 10cm tall and look ready for permanent homes.  Whilst I can (and will!) "make hay whilst the Sun is (briefly) shining", I find the whole thing deeply worrying.
There's a small beetle I call the Cabbage Bug, since the Brassica tribe are their favourite food, along with Beets and Chard.  My reading seems to indicate that they are a sub-family of Laybug, but, unfortunately, one that eats plants.  "Dormant in Winter." I would advise the Neophyte Gardener. Oh! How they would laugh at me now, as I daily watch my Beets, Turnips and Chinese Cabbages -- even Lettuce -- getting shredded by these small beasts.  They look something like Ladybugs -- about the same size and shape -- their colours run to red-and-yellow on black, and they seem to have lack any form of predator.  Oh the Sin of Hubris!  It is soooo tempting to get out some sort of Spray to sort them out.  Presumably whatever birds or bugs normally keep them in check are sleeping through the alleged Winter.
Oh well, we will be Powerless for most of the day.  The electricity company will be replacing a transformer and improving insulation on the cables upstream from us to prevent birds electrocuting themselves.  I'm happy to be powerless for a day in the cause of bird-preservation, even if they are merely the Bloody Noisy Hadeda.  I shall spend the day planting Very Early Tomatoes, Chillis, Eggplants and Tamarillos.
(For those of you who may have been following the Saga Of Autumn-Sown Chillis: The Chillis have survived handily so far.  My seed-tray mix tends to be a bit heavy and airless, being almost-pure compost, so the seedlings are all a bit yellow and pale, and they really want moving out into better homes.  I shall attempt to oblige tomorrow.)
Anybody who claims that there No Such Thing As Global Warming[1] has, I think, probably been eating some of those odd, spotty fungi.  I am deeply worried and frightened by the coming Summer.  Last Summer we saw the "Hole in the Ozone Layer" larger than ever in recorded history.  The Ozone Layer might not be getting the press coverage it was a few years ago -- seems that Al Gore and Peak Oil are stealing the limelight -- but it's still there.  And growing.  I fear the effect on our crops of ever-higher UV levels.  This is part of the reason I am consciously choosing to plant red- and purple-coloured varieties of vegetables where practical; the anthocyanins that cause the red/purple colouration also impart a UV-tolerance.  So I'm told.  We hope.
Already I'm trying to figure out how to erect shadecloth barriers to protect plants through the heat radiation of the coming Summer's afternoons to avoid sun-scalded Tomatoes and Chillis!
And it is only July.
[1] Alright, alright: It's really "Global Climate Change" and not "global Warming".  But shorthand works!

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