This is Peter from the Wild Bunch. I’m writing this on a blustery autumn day, it’s been raining all week, there are conkers on the road and blackberries seem to be in full flood. But it’s mid-August. We did have summer – back in May. My water tanks then were completely empty, my onions grew to only marginally larger than the onion sets I planted and likewise the early spuds produced about 1 spud per plant.
Around twenty years ago I worked for Comic Relief. I did some research into the potential impact of climate change on the work they supported in Africa. My conclusion was that while extreme weather events would increasingly hit the headlines, it would be the unpredictability of rainfall and temperature that would undermine everything. Most food in Africa is grown by small farmers who have a few bags of seeds to sow just before the rains come. The rains always came around the same time. Not anymore.
To an extent gardeners here can get around this with irrigation (until the water runs out), shade, and growing different plants at different times. Disastrously, nature cannot adapt so quickly. In May, fast breeding aphids covered some of my plants quite quickly, but neither the ladybirds nor the tits which might normally eat them had caught up. Millennia of evolution used to result in a food supply (insects or a particular plant) being available with perfect timing when birds’ eggs hatched, or caterpillars emerged. Not anymore.
So, what can we do? Locally, in our own gardens, look to increase the range of flowers and vegetation we grow for insect life and to ensure we keep as many potential places as possible available for insects and animals to ‘hang out’ for a few days while their food emerges. Keep noticing what’s changing and talking about it too – one of the big challenges of acting on climate change is that it is the small impacts that are making the real difference, and they are hard to shout about. But do shout about them too – keep up the pressure on decision makers to do more to reduce the impacts of climate change, both locally and nationally.
Why not come along to the next Wild Bunch meeting where you can see some of the ways which we help to promote wildlife-friendly approaches in our neighbourhoods. The next meeting takes place on Thursday 21st September, at Frome Town Hall at 1:30pm (or you can attend online too). Laura Batts from Prickles Hedgehog rescue centre will be leading the session on hedgehog awareness, at a time of year when we need to make sure our local hedgehog population are well fed and sheltered, prior to hibernation. Take a look at our page and reserve your spot.