My puny peas! Just starting to bloom in June.
I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. For at least the last 12, I've gardened consistently. Every year, the tomatoes go in the first of April. I direct sow wildflower seeds mid-March. For the rest, I follow my handy planting guide. It's worked well for me. Summer welcomes the bees and butterflies through our seed-started pollinator garden. Fall produces a bumper crop of tomatoes and pumpkins that hulk about the yard. Sunflowers gawk over everything.
Only, it hasn't actually been working these last few years. Last year, April 1st hit and I headed to a local plant sale to load up on tomato starts (No, I'm lame and don't start my own.). I finally located parking, bundled the kids up in their parkas and headed for the sale when we began being hit by hailstones. At the sale the vendor suggested bringing tomatoes in on cold days and at night due to the unpredictable weather that spring. I overheard another patron say "I'll just wait." Me too, I thought! And I did. I put the tomatoes in in early in May, once it warmed up, but they never did produce that much.
This year, I dutifully raked in seeds in mid-March. The first weekend of April was in the mid 60s. Warm enough for tomatoes, I determined and plunged ahead. In May, I piled mounds of earth around the garden and poked squash seeds in them. In late May, I tucked sunflower seeds in vacant spots.
Here we are, the first week of June and are bracing for another winter storm. You read that right. A winter storm in California in June. It is so bad, the weather service has inserted little exclamation points on three days worth of weather. The tomatoes look to be holding their own. The sunflowers and squash sprouted but nothing more. For weeks, they've squatted on their mounds, two leaf wonders, turning more and more yellow as day after day of 50 degree temperatures crawls by. My friend's dad is a local farmer. He reported that it doesn't look like there will be any pumpkins this year and that rain deterred most of the pollination during blossom time so few fruits as well.
As cold as it was last year, I remember cosmos blooming and squash blossoms echoing with bees by this time last year. What is happening?
Climate change is a touchy subject these days but more and more, our climates do seem to be changing. Weather has become more extreme, less predictable. Yes, yes, I know. There are colder Mays on record here. Apparently 26 of them. And it is El Nino or La Nina or blah blah blah.
Regardless, the weather continues to be as moody as, well, me. It seriously interferes with growing food - not just for the urban homesteader but for large scale operations as well. How big of a problem do you think this is? How have you dealt with it or what do you plan to do to avoid weather related catastrophes next year? Have you invested a greenhouse or set up a hoop house? Or do you just roll with the punches?