The other day I was reading a message board where people from all over were talking about how their gardens had done this year. Most of them had trouble, and most of them blamed the strange weather. Now, of course, we can’t know the weather was truly to blame in each and every failure–but temperature shifts, unseasonable heat and cool do play havoc in the garden. It got me to thinking about climate change and how gardeners might be able to hedge their bets to make sure they get a harvest every season.
Climate change creates unpredictable weather, and unpredictability is a terrible thing for a gardener. Ensuring success, I think, will have to do more and more with identifying and perhaps even breeding tough-ass, locally adapted plants. Plants that are known survivors can form the backbone of your garden. Each year you can try to plant tender favorites, exotics, delicate plants of all sorts, whatever you want–and if the roll of the weather dice falls in your favor, you may harvest those plants. But that backbone of tough plants will be there, so you’ll have something fresh for your table no matter what.
Now, just what those plants are is going to vary by location. I’m going to list off some survivors for Southern California. Please chime in with your location and your favorite, bomb-proof plant!
- Prickly pear cactus. When the Armageddon comes, I’m sure we’ll be living off of this while serving our mutant cockroach overlords.
- New Zealand spinach. We just posted on this.
- Arugula. As a winter crop–it doesn’t like summer heat.
- Artichoke. Everyone in SoCal should have one in their yard.
- Cherry tomatoes. Cherries don’t seem to be nearly as susceptible to the various tomato maladies. Climate change or no, they are an important backup to big tomatoes.
- Swiss chard. The most amiable of all greens.
- Fruit trees. They aren’t bothered by much here in this mild climate–but this wouldn’t be true somewhere where, say, a late frost could wipe out a crop. However, I think our chill hours are dropping in SoCal so I’d recommend very low chill hour trees, like figs and pomegranates, over more borderline trees like apricots.
- And, we’re very lucky to live in the ideal climate for avocados.
Credit where credit is due: this is a post by Mrs. Homegrown–due to a computer glitch it got posted by Señor Homegrown.