2011 Here’s yet another take on why it is so cold in SoCal this year. It’s basically all from La Nina---global warming is occurring, but not along our California coasts.
Well, fine. What can we do about it?
The people who mastered the art of gardening in a miserable cold climate might give us some ideas. The high Victorians brought kitchen gardening to incredible production. On a typical large estate, 14 people tended the gardens, the household staff numbered 20 or better, house guests up to 30 with their attendant maids and valets were expected on week-ends and the family --and they had big families with various poor relations hanging out in the garrets. 14+20+30+30+10 for the family = 104 people who had to be fed 3 meals a day---and no supermarkets.
The first weapon was the walled garden. The walls might enclose 6 acres, and be over 12 feet high at some of the great houses like the one at Dunmore in Falkirk, Scotland.
|the Dunmore Pineapple|
Falkirk is at the same latitude as Moscow (okay, it is warmed by the Gulf Stream, but still…these gardeners managed to grow peaches, grapes and pineapples.) Lots of them. A fruit house might contain one and 1/2 tons of fruit by the end of the harvest.
The walls were usually brick—sometimes containing fireplaces, so the wall acted as a giant radiator.
Miles of glass houses, warmed by hot water piped through them, produced tropical fruits (pineapples*), melons all year round, peaches, nectarines and grapes--- in enormous quantities for the enormous households.
|Glasshouses on North Wall|
|The Victorian Stable|
This was still the era of the horse and a large estate produced lots of manure ---and the Victorian gardeners used tons to great effect to create hot beds which raised the soil temperature . This makes all the difference to plants. If you live on a, cattle or llama ranch, or ostrich farm, you've got it made. Pig manure is the cream de la creme but we can't all be lucky.
|Cloche from Monticello, Jefferson's garden|
A hotbed or forcing bed, heated with a lot of manure can raise the soil temperature by as much as 4 degrees. Or you can use a cloche or bell.
|Modern plastic cloches|
There is nothing wrong with a large (2 gal. or better) plastic bottle with the top cut off (easy to do with a hot knife) although not as romantic looking, your tomato plants won’t care.
More on Victorian Kitchen Gardens in Installment Two . Coming soon.