The year in perspective …

I think 2022 was the year that the climate crisis really sank in for me. Quite apart from all the extreme events the world over, served up in copious helpings by the drama-hungry media, if I look back over the year, the one thing that really stands out is the drought we experienced here for over four months. As I wrote at the time (Blog, October 1st, 2022), it was a shock! It made me imagine all sorts of scenarios, right up to whether the land here would be able to support the Forest Garden Project if this was repeated regularly in the future.

The good thing to come out of this was the idea of installing hügelkultur beds in the Upper Garden, coupled with rainwater harvesting. This is still planned, but I am no further forward, waiting for the digger man to arrive. Unfortunately he is very good at his job (he has already done some work here), and so I think I must be further down the waiting list. I will wait until later on in January and then try him again. If that’s still no good, I will have to consider looking round for someone else, as the beds really need to be done before the spring. This involves such a fundamental change of direction, both physically and mentally, that until I can start, I feel as though things are in limbo, although my enthusiasm for the Project as a whole, and my overall long-term hope for an ecologically viable future for the planet, remain undimmed.

Continue reading

All change, water management is the name of the game …

This year has been a shock. The garden has suffered from severe frost and drought and as mentioned last month, I have realised that there has to be a fundamental shift in my approach to the Sombrun Forest Garden Project. Frost I can’t do much about, as this will vary from year to year, and will no doubt continue on a ‘win some, lose some’ basis. But there is a high likelihood of extended summer drought from now on due to climate change, and I can at least plan to mitigate this.

It means that the immediate focus needs to be on water management, to develop further from the swale ditches already installed in order to help the trees, shrubs and other plants to survive. This will now take priority over further planting (although there will be some, see below) until I can see the way forward to resume. My thinking is that unless I can give Nature a helping hand to improve the conditions for survival, the Forest Garden will always struggle, given the initial poor soil and the slope on this site. I was even watering this month, September, which has never been needed before.

Continue reading

Drought, watering, resilience and plans …

When I wrote ‘Drought and heat – thoughts about the future …‘ last month, little did I realise how this situation would continue and become more critical throughout August, causing considerable upheaval at the heart of the Sombrun Forest Garden Project! I have often said in these pages that I am working hand in hand with Nature, that really it is Nature in control, and this has taught me a valuable lesson this month: in following Nature, we have to be prepared for surprises, and things may not turn out as we thought. This year’s drought has caused me stop, forcibly, and made me realise that I have to adapt.

The photos below are symbolic of the conditions: on the left, one afternoon’s harvest of blackberries, and on the right, partial die-back of a goat willow tree.

Continue reading