Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Climate Change & Global Warming

There is not a lot to do in the garden right now so I thought I would make a few entries on environmental issues that should be of interest to home gardeners. It's easy to sit back in our nice cosy homes, flip on whatever lights we want and enjoy a few hours in front of the tube. If we are cold we can crank up the heat. If we are hungry we can open our huge for some of us well stocked from our garden, refrigerators or freezes or we can drive to the store. We live in a country of consumerism and the more the better. But all these activities have consequences that we sometimes don't think about.

The theory of global warming is an interesting but controversial one. I opened this topic for discussion on my Yahoo group as to how it relates to people like us who garden as well as large scale farm operations. There is no doubt we are experiencing climate change with warmer winters, longer growing seasons, hotter summers and more violent weather.

I read in our local paper where we have had a big El Nino this so the winter should be warmer with more rain and less snow but more fog days. Now some will be happy with this news since it will mean less snow removal. In our area that will save municipalities a lot of money! Others like the local farmers won't be too happy with rain instead of snow. For home gardeners, it may mean drier soil conditions in the spring. A warmer spring or worse like this past lack of spring cold weather crops like peas and lettuces fail. A milder winter will also mean lower heating costs that should please anyone who pays for heating as well as environmentalists. On the flip side our natural gas provider will see reduced revenues for the second year in a row. They annouced a few months back of a rate reduction because of the warm winter last year. But some scientists and environmentalists are blaming these climate changes on global warming.

I'm not that old but can see myself where the weather is very much different than when I was a child. Then boots and warm winter gear were a must daily during the winter months. Now people are out and about in the winter with light fleese jackets and running shoes. Last winter I wore my boots twice so at that rate they are going to last a very long time! Many enviromentalists are pointing to our changing and volitile weather patterns as an indication of global warming. There is no doubt we are experiencing climate changes but some are saying that global warming is a myth so there are two sides to the issue. Yesterday I listened to a segment by author and columnist George Monbiot who is warning about global warming. He has a blog, , that is a wealth of information on the subject as well as other things that we as gardeners should be concerned with like genetically modified seeds. Now the warnings about global warming have been coming for a long time. In 1984 Al Gore was elected to the Senate in the US. He wrote the book Earth in the Balance and continues to warn of global warming and saving the environment. In 1989 The Canadian Green Consumer Guide warned of global warming under the subject of greenhouse effect. Since then many environmentalists have issued the same warning. Is this a warning we should head?

The theory is global warming or an increase in the average global surface air temperature has been increasing because of the greenhouse effect. The premise is that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide act like a blanket around the planet holding in solar radiation that normally would be reflected into space. Carbon dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gases because we produce a lot of it through the burning of fossil fuels. The Kyoto Accord is an international treaty where countries agree to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions if their neighbouring countries agree to do likewise. The Kyoto Protocol came into force seven years after the Accord and provides the framework for countries to reduce carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases within certain periods of time. As good as this sounds, there has been opposition to Kyoto. In Canada the opposition came from Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta. Despite the good intentions of Kyoto it is a political solution not a scientific one.

As a scientist I tend to look at things in an analytical and scientific manner so the first rule in science is a theory is not an unsubstantiated guess. It has been tested scientifically by scientific method. Scientific method is observe and develop a testable hypothesis. In this case the observation is we are experiencing warmer climate conditions globally. The hypotheis is increased levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming. Next comes the prediction which would be as these gases increase so to with the atmospheric global temperature. The next stage is testing. Are we seeing what we predicted? If so retest several times. If retesting gives the same results accept the hypothesis and it becomes theory, if not reject the hypothesis and modify the hypothesis. So what happens when the levels of carbon dioxide decrease? The second hypothesis in the global warming issue is a decreasing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases will stop global warming. The prediction is a decrease in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases will cause a decrease in the atmospheric global temperature. The next step is testing and observing whether the prediction is confirmed. Is that what scientists are observing?

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Harvest Time

Wild Turkey

Many of the area farmers are taking advantage of the recent dry weather to harvest their fields. When the field behind us is harvested we never know what interesting critters will appear. I was out checking the greenhouse and garden beds last week to see what final winerizing was needed when I caught sight of a wild turkey in the field. After getting my husband to see the bird, I snapped several pictures of this wild tukey hen. She seem rather comfortable with our presence even getting a little closer to us while feeding.

The wild turkey is the largest game bird in North America. They were almost wiped out in Canada but have now increased in numbers due to strict hunting laws and reintroduction in some areas. The wild turkey population in Ontario is estimated to be about 30,000. Predators include fox, bobcats, great horned owls, raccoons, opossums, black snakes, skunks, crows, red squirrels, coyotes and fishers but some are only predators at certains stages of the wild turkey's life cycle. Fox are predators of the wild turkey at all stages of its life.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome

Monday, November 06, 2006

Walking the Talk

'Every one of us can do something to protect and care for our planet. We should live in such a way that makes a future possible.'

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Everything we do in life leaves some type of an impact on Mother Earth. As gardeners we are likely more aware of environmental issues than others. Still it saddens me when I hear some gardeners wanting the latest and quickest kill quick fix for even the simplest problem. The new buzz word is organic and many gardeners boast they are growing organically yet will resort to inorganic and toxic measures to solve a problem that could easily be solved in a more environmentally friendly way. The question then becomes, do you walk your talk?

We live on the water and as such are privy to wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful sights but for the most part the water provides eye candy uncomparable to anything else. The diversity in wildlife is truly amazing! However, there is an ugly side to living on the water and that is watching others dump just about anything into it. When I first saw sign of dumping, I was upset then angry but because neirth of those emotions get results, I decided to become proactive and do something about the problem. I chose to lead by example and one-on-one education. For the past few years, every time I saw someone dumping, I would stop and chat with them letting them know that we all have a vested interest in the water and what they were doing was harming it. It's funny as many I have spoke to did not even consider their actions were harmful! The end result has been a lot less dumping and word has spred so sometimes one person can make a difference.

Back to walking the talk. Everything we do in life has an effect! I am amongst other things an environmentalist but not professionally. That means that yes I do garden as organically as possible. The strongest chemical you will ever find in my garden is dish soap and even that is used sparingly. This mindset does not stop with the garden. I prefer to use baking soda and vinegar for most cleaning chores in the house. The strongest chemical used indoors for cleaning is Simple Green which is a concentrated non-toxic, non-mutagenic and non-carcinogenic cleaner that can be made in different strengths. I use re-usable spray bottles for the solution so they stay out of the landfill.

I could go on about all the things I do to leave the least impact on Mother Earth, from being energy conscious to home preserving to gardening organically and everything in between. This entry is simply one to get you thinking. Today, could you walk or bike instead of using the car. If you have to use the car, could you combine several errants in the one trip? Could you send an email instead of using paper? Could you eliminate just one toxic cleaner and substitute it for a non-toxic cleaner? What about that jar you were going to toss, could it be recycled or re-used? Does that item you wanted to buy really need all that packaging? Could you convert one person?

One voice does make a difference!

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome