Gardening in January

January Garlic PlantingI planted my garlic today – 2 thirty foot rows. I try to eat a clove a day, and I need extra for seed to take me into the next growing season. As I tucked the cloves into the wet soil, I imagined them next August as full size bulbs, and the curling garlic scapes that will greet me in spring; one of the earlier harvests from the garden each year. The interesting thing about growing garlic is that you have to trust, because you cannot monitor how well they are doing.

The crazy bit about this story is that it is almost the middle of January. It was only a few days ago that we had our heaviest snow fall yet. It was not much but enough to do some snow clearing. Now the snow is all gone after a beautiful spring day.

I had been hibernating indoors since the holidays, studying food and farming and planning my global tour. Today was one of those days when I experience what I talk about – the sacredness of growing food. I was very much in touch with the land, sinking into mud in my gumboots, and getting dirt under my nails. My hands are dry and my back sore, but I feel alive!

Climate change is a tough topic. I don’t feel like complaining today and yet the repercussions could be very serious. I have heard that the climate zone mapping for planting has already been shifted further away from the equator. Favourable regions for growing what is being grown now will gradually move northward. It is predicted that there will be a decrease of up to 30% in world food production due to effects of climate change on agriculture. Are we doing anything about this?

Perhaps you have heard this  story and I give credit to wikipedia for helping me. In Greek mythology, Cassandra (often shortened to Sandra or Sandy) was one of the most beautiful women. She had red hair kept in curls, blue eyes, and fair skin and she was intelligent, charming, elegant and desirable. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. When Cassandra refused Apollo, he placed a curse on her so that she and all her descendants’ predictions would not be believed. Is it coincidental that one of the most destructive hurricanes in US history was called Hurricane Sandy? It took that kind of destruction for Barack Obama to finally talk about climate change.

I have not read much on Canada’s position on climate change, but they have a dedicated website (http://climatechange.gc.ca) that reassures Canadians that they will achieve economic benefits in the approach to climate change. I cringe. It is just another opportunity to making money. Update January 14, 2013, A year of extreme weather could put the heat on Ottawa’s environmental indifference: http://bit.ly/UXAKWm by Tim Harper, national affairs writer for thestar.ca.

apple blossom dataApple farmers in Southwestern Ontario have not experienced any economic benefit from climate change this winter. They had no apples. Data on the spring bloom of apples suggests this event has been advancing by about 2 days per decade (http://www.climateandfarming.org/pdfs/FactSheets/I.2Indicators.pdf). This can be a benefit for farmers and it can be detrimental. The effect of climate change is not only warmer temperatures but also, a more variable climate. The earlier bloom last spring saw frost damage to flowers and as a result, no fruit. Will spring bloom be affected again this spring? Out in my garden today, my fruit bushes had significant buds on them. And the fact that I could plant garlic today is not a good sign.

Ontario Gala Apple

Ontario Gala Apple

I did however, manage to find some Ontario apples this week and I ate 3 in one afternoon. Some farmers in Ontario are doing very well with the high demand for their applies. I think I was deficient in something because wow, they were good.

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About Kaytlyn Dale

#nuffield13 scholar passionate about sacred agriculture and holding space for transforming ourselves so that we can help regenerate the land, soil, Earth and our food system. Pursuing an MA that brings spirituality and agriculture together in the conversation.
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