The world is growing warmer, ice caps are melting and weather patterns changing, and this alteration in in climate is influencing the way in which we farm and garden. Put simply, the warmer zones are moving northwards. This means that areas which once might have been unsuitable for certain types of crops now become suitable, but at the other end some areas are becoming too hot for the crops that have traditionally been grown there. This seems to be the case in parts of Europe, as the Mediterranean countries, already hot in summer, are becoming intolerably hot and dry at times. Furthermore, the conditions can be variable, for sometimes these climates can be tolerable, but then can come a heat wave that takes temperatures soaring to over a hundred degrees for a sustained period of time.Not only do crops suffer, but gardeners too can wilt under the ferocity of a heatwave, leaving jobs undone.
With excessive heat comes drought, which challenges farmers and gardeners, who need to find water for their crops, but along with drought there comes the danger of fire. In some areas, such as California, we see whole swathes of land destroyed by fire, but even in Britain, where such bush fires are not a phenomenon, we can have moorland fires, when dry peat starts to burn and inflames the dry heather. These have never threatened a town, but they can take a significant time to quell, as the fire continues underground, leaving the fire fighters longing for rain.
But weather patterns also change with the climate. Britain is a rainy place and we have had rarely had serious droughts, and on the whole we have had few extreme weather events. The British climate contains a measure of unpredictability, it always has, But in recent years gardeners and farmers have been at a loss to know what weather is coming in Spring and summer, as it has been so unpredictable. Springtime seems to have been drier recently. Two years ago it was very chilly, but last year not so bad.
But what is happening is that some predictions seem to be coming true. Britain is divided by an imaginary line, the Tees-Exe line. To trace this take a map and find the mouth of the river Exe in the South West. Find the mouth of the Tees in North East England and draw a slightly curved line that just touches the southern tip of the Pennine range, and this is the Tees-Exe line. North West of it is mainly highland Britain, though there are some large lowland areas, such as where I live; but South East is lowland Britain, with just some small hills. North and West of the line we have been predicted to have stormier winters, but South and East drier summers, even to drought conditions at times. This is already happening. Gardeners need to take into account the type of changes that are affecting their area.