Roots 'n' Shoots: Winter Garden Blues - Wires Crossed & Signals Lost

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Winter Garden Blues - Wires Crossed & Signals Lost

I recently posted on the our weather for the growing season of 2014/2015 and how it differed from the previous year (2013/2014).

The winter vegetable garden had been stunted this year, because of the very warm April month that we had this year (5oC warmer than last year! See The Shroom's Weather Report 2014/2015). As a result all the plants in the garden had gotten their signals confused. Most of the herbs that go dormant during winter clung onto some green foliage, such as the Tarragon and Comfrey plants. The berries also did not entered a full-on dormancy stage. At least our fruit trees went into dormancy on cue, so their fruit carrying capacity should not be effected next season...

Not only are dormancy issues a problem for the summer-growing plants, but the winter vegetables didn't experience cool enough temperatures that encourage them to grow and crop. Usually, I start up the winter garden end March/ beginning April. This gives them the opportunity to grow while it is still moderately 'warm', but after about a month we should be getting really cool weather in May so that they can crop by June. But, the whole of April was quite warm instead of having a gradual decrease in temperature. This made the winter veg halt their growth and wait for cooler temperatures, which had resulted in stunted plants that seem to have stayed stunted for the most part even though we had a cold front during mid-June and late-July.

Here is a photo of last year's garden (23 June 2014) and this year's garden (27 June 2015):

As you will notice we already started to harvest leaf veg in May last year, peas and broccoli by June and Brussels as well as cauliflowers by end July. The peas don't even have flowers yet - this was in June! So far we have had a dismal winter vegetable harvest, a handful of leafy veg, peas and some tender stem broccoli.

I am not sure whether other people are experienced the same issues with their winter vegetable garden this year or whether it is a localised problem. If the increase in temperature is a wide-spread trend and our seasons seem to be shifting (El Niño is also about!) - then we will have to shift up the winter garden by a month (as well as planing out the summer veg later should it still be too cold by September).

I will be keeping a close eye on the temperatures closer to spring in order to make some planting-time decisions about the summer vegetables/fruit - but if we are experiencing a shift in season I am afraid there is little to do, but to adapt with it. Just when you thought you've got it all figured out...

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