Though Hogmanay has been cancelled, the new year has dawned and I wonder what lies ahead in the garden with a keener mind than normal.
There is no denying that the weather is in control and lately we have gotten used to it all.
As La Nina’s cooling effect kicks in, the Met Office has expected a significantly lower global temperature in 2021 than in previous years. But it’s only 1C above the level of 1850-1900. The local variations caused by climate change, in any case, still make forecasts nearly impossible for Scotland.
But how are we going to schedule the year? Many of our plants usually cope and only get on with it.
But our best laid plans can be wrecked by weather, rainfall and storms. And the length of the day and the sun’s intensity are still lurking in the background.
There’s nothing we can do to shield our plants from scorching heat waves, including regular watering and a permanently shaded garden.
But because sunlight is limited here, by seeking the sunniest spots, we position our plants in the firing line.
Oh, for them.
It’s annoying because when everything needs good watering, spring and early summer are dry, and late summer and fall when everything requires good watering.
The sun needs our stuff.
Whatever the weather, by selecting the best time for sowing, we can give ourselves a fair chance. And this varies from country to country, so try to consult with other gardeners if you are new to gardening.
Basically, the farther north you live, you seed or plant outdoors later in the season. To give most seeds a chance, the soil needs to lose its winter chill and be warmer than 5 °C. That’s why early April is a busy time for me to plant varieties such as carrots and kale in the Borders. You may have to wait for another fortnight up north.
A highly debated question is when to seed tatties. Upon moving
When I moved to the Borders, many years ago,
I was told that the right time was April 18. But all that is changed by climate change.
I ventured to plant a week earlier in recent years, and now I’ve daringly relocated it to April 7. It’s dangerous, though. I have to watch the forecast anxiously: one mistake and I’m faced with a row of brown, frosted shooting tips.
At the end of the season, erratic frosts do just as much harm. My pole beans and zucchini could be in the first few years,
In the first few years, they may be shriveled by mid-September frosts, but in November they may now be bearing fruit.
Outdoors, warmer summers make more of us start growing tomatoes, cucumbers and probably sweet maize. But I still have to keep them in the tunnel before temperatures get a little higher.
The power of the sun or the duration of the day can’t be affected by climate change. Sussex enjoys 49 minutes more daylight than I do, and in Inverness I beat the gardeners by 29 minutes.
Even though our summer days are longer than in the south, the sun is higher in the sky there and therefore stronger, and southern plants can grow for a
Over a longer period of time, extend.
With less growing time, some of my “late maturing” varieties, such as sprouts, cannot complete their growth cycle and reach their
We should also plan to protect some susceptible specimens from more severe and non-seasonal storms.
This is especially critical for flower beds. How easy it is to forget to stake delphiniums in time and struggle to support them when it’s too late and those gorgeous flower spikes collapse in storms?
And what about majestic irises and the new growth of climbing roses? The list is endless.