Gardening for Climate Change

Reader Contribution by Sue Van Slooten
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Most people now realize that climate change is here to stay, what with massive tornado outbreaks, our annual forest fires and floods, and generally wacky weather. This presents a challenge for the home gardener. Two days ago, we had a storm roll through here the likes of which I haven’t seen for at least a decade or so. Winds of about 100 km, heavy rain, hail, the works. Even an F0 tornado touched down (I know that’s a wimpy one), but the second for Ontario this year. Environment Canada hates to admit we get tornadoes up here, but it is happening more often, sometimes with loss of life. We lost a tree, fortunately no other damage. A neighbour’s floating raft is now positioned almost off the end of our dock (a few others floated on by, along with a fishing boat, half sunk.) Power was out for seven hours, but again, we were lucky. Some were out for almost a day. Generators and chain saws were the order of the day. We were extremely lucky. No one was killed or hurt. Still my heart was in my throat, thinking that my garden had been destroyed.

The good news, my garden was almost completely untouched! I was so grateful, because I have about 45 tomato plants, as well as onions, beans, kohlrabi, pumpkin, and cucumber. Herein lies the challenge however:Due to the hail, I’ve been ruminating about how to protect a small garden, or least start with a small one. I’ve seen gardens reduced to centimeter-sized bits of green, as if a food processor had gone through. My thoughts have turned to (don’t laugh), window screens on stilts, plexiglass sheets that can be lowered (not good in wind), all manner of crazy and bizarre ideas. Fine mesh and PVC pipe anyone? Sort of like a storm shelter for your garden. So I would like to present this challenge to all of MOTHER’s readers of how to hail-proof or maybe wind-proof as well, our gardens. The storms aren’t going away, and in my opinion will only intensify. This is a problem faced by all home gardeners. Any ideas? We eaters and cookers love our veggies, and I’m willing to bet that most of us face the same problem. Nothing can stop a tornado, but a “garden” variety thunderstorm can possibly be tamed in this effort.

Any ideas should be put to the test of course. Nothing like field trials. We can even give it a name:Save Our Veggies (yes, I know it sounds like Save Our Ship, or SOS). MOTHER has done great research with chicken tractors, maybe now we can turn those talents to our gardens. You can email me at with your ideas. Give an idea of how you did it, the materials, and if field-tested, how effective it was. This will be an interesting summer.

Photo by Sue Van Slooten