About 5 years ago we moved from the city into a home of our own. Before, we lived in Offenbach (right next to Frankfurt/Main), nearly in the city center, and were also quite happy to be living in a large city.
Our shopping habits were oriented pretty much on the offers of the weekly market. We preferred produce which grew in the region, and thus could also be bought without it having taken long transport journeys. One could know that the environmental commitment was already there, and clearly the climatic change existed, but direct effects with us? No, actually not.
In the meantime we live in our own home. Still in the Rhine-Main area, but more at the edge. The little house was built in 1958. Like all houses on the street at that time, it served young married couples as their first self-owned accommodation. They could all just manage to finance the building of a house on their own, and the garden property aided in self-sufficiency.
Since the garden work is a lot of fun for us both, we have maintained the structure of the garden, and also plant vegetables, have a plum and an apple tree, as well as peaches and figs.
Now we notice, how the northern growing period functions. How the plants are simply dependent on a continuous yearly rhythm. Nature needs to rest during the cold winter and starts growing in spring. Then we can see the flowers, the fruits growing during summer, and finally the autumn is harvest time.
In the last years the spring has been rather dry, which means that one must begin early with irrigation. If then the fruit trees have not gotten enough water, just at the time in which the fruit sets, and also still at the beginning of the spring the cistern for the garden irrigation cannot be completely filled, because the rain is not sufficient, then the harvest in the garden costs additional drinking water and energy.
And also, in the further yearly process, storms and heavy rains cause much fruit to rot prematurely. A long, very warm autumn prevents our apples from being stored because it is too warm. Actually, apples can supply one with fruit the whole winter. Also root vegetables, coolly stored in sand, can supply one to a large extent in the winter. In addition, however, the autumn must also be cool at times.
Well, all this now is “only” an annoyance for the hobby, and we are not set up for self-sufficiency or dependent on it. But thinking further, this is not limited to our garden. And if I want to secure my harvest, I must use more energy (irrigation pumps, store harvests in the refrigerator or freeze), and surely not only I but also the others who cultivate the vegetables that I buy.
Climatic changes are perhaps not so noticeable, and a sunny, dry warm spring or a golden autumn into November is very beautiful on the one hand, but they can be signals which we should take seriously.
[Andreas Hofstötter, Germany]