I thought it was about time I resumed rambling again after a few weeks of inactivity. The heat and drought has created lots of extra work and the sun seems to have slowly fried my brain removing any intelligent or amusing thoughts, though it has left me a somewhat unnatural shade of light brown. I’m beginning to fear that I could be turning into Donald Trump- given the amount of time he spends in Florida this could actually explain everything.
It’s certainly the toughest year I’ve ever known in the garden, it never stopped raining for the first 4 months of the year, and it hasn’t rained in Waterford since then; there were about 2 weeks in between when soil conditions were ideal! The three of you who have been reading my column since March might remember the horticultural angst I was suffering putting my lovely little seed potatoes into such cold, wet ground, now the poor things are fighting a losing battle to grow in the heat; even with irrigation they are just too hot to grow well. We tend to assume in Ireland that all plants would prefer to be warmer than they usually are in a “normal” Irish summer, though most things we grow (for obvious reasons) actually like our regular climate. Plants have a maximum temperature that they like to grow at, for potatoes and peas this is not much more than 200C. Both crops suffered badly when the soil was wet and cold early in the season, then have had excessive heat to cope with. The few peas I will harvest this year will seem too precious to eat, so consider yourself very privileged if you have peas on your plate at GROWHQ this year.
On a more positive note the heat loving crops have obviously found things much more to their liking. French and runner beans are very happy in temperatures of 300C and I’ve enjoyed watching the speed at which they are growing. The runner beans hit the canes and then just sprint off after the sun. The peas on the over hand get their tendrils onto the supports and then just cling on miserably, finding growing just too much bother in the heat. The happiest plants of all seem to be my lemons that were bought to make our café look more Mediterranean, they have been put outside on the terrace for the summer and understandably seem very happy with life.
It’s impossible to predict what Ireland’s climate will be like in our warmer global future but if it continues to be as unpredictable and extreme as this year then I think I’ll retrain as an accountant, there is only so much “excitement” I can take. For those of you who have taken up growing for the first time this year don’t worry it’s not usually this difficult- or it wasn’t in the past anyway!