February Garden Blog

Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising and weather events are becoming more extreme. 2019 was the second warmest year on record and the end of the warmest decade (2010-2019) ever recorded. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and other greenhouse gasses rose to a new record in 2019. (UN Climate action). As temperatures soar, changes will be irreversible as ecosystems collapse. Our planet will be unrecognisable.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that global temperatures need to be prevented from rising by more than 1.5˚C. We have already passed 1˚C. We need to act fast to reduce our carbon emissions and reduce the carbon already in the atmosphere.

Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. Young woodland can lock up 400+ tonnes of carbon per hectare. Like great carbon sinks, trees absorb atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis and lock it up for centuries. As well as this they can help prevent flooding, reduce city/town temperature, reduce pollution and keep soil nutrient-rich. The bottom line is we need more trees and we need to protect the ones we already have. (Woodland Trust).

One of CLEAR’s primary roles is to plant and maintain trees. Generally, the winter months in gardens are very quiet, however here at CLEAR the work never stops and we are kept busy, when the weather isn’t too inclement and the ground isn’t frozen, working with trees. This could be planting more trees: we have already planted over 18,000 native and around 7,000 fruit trees in public green spaces, on sites accessible to all, in and around Buckhaven and Methil, with another 2,500 native and 400 fruit trees to be planted this winter; or tree maintenance, including replacing broken stakes and protective covers and pruning the fruit trees in our orchards.

Winter pruning, which can be carried out from November to March, encourages strong spring growth, and the lack of leaves means you can better see the structure and shape of the tree. Ideally, branches should be evenly spaced around the tree for air circulation and light penetration. Dead and broken branches are removed as these can provide an access point for disease, reduce air circulation and light penetration and can cause further damage to the tree if they fall. Any diseased wood is removed and disposed of by fire to prevent any further spread. Any crossing branches are removed as they can rub against each other and cause damage, and the main stem or trunk can also be shortened to a more convenient height.

Winter pruning is also carried out on our berry bushes i.e. raspberries, black, red and white currants and gooseberries for the same reasons as above. The pruned berry branches can be replanted to raise new plants. If the ground isn’t ready to plant or is frozen solid, the prunings can be placed in a bucket of water for a number of weeks prior to planting, with no detrimental effects. This is an easy way to increase the number of plants you have and costs nothing.

We also have lettuce and parsley in the polytunnel and kale, cabbage, cavolo nero, brussels sprouts, beetroot, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes growing in the Community Gardens at the moment. These can remain in the soil all winter and can be harvested as required, in fact, the flavour and colour of many winter vegetables are improved if the plants are frosted before harvesting. Eating local and seasonal food is an easy way to reduce food miles and therefore carbon emissions.

As our shop is currently closed due to lockdown, please contact us on 078 3355 3398 if you would like to buy any of our vegetables or herbs.

Look out for our up-coming on-line climate-friendly gardening and cookery workshops.

Climate Action Fife is a Fife-wide partnership project, bringing together individuals, communities, local government and businesses to tackle the climate emergency. It is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund. #ClimateActionFife

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