Polytunnel Greenhouse. Kattegattt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Guardian Author Discovers the Benefits of Petroleum Based Plastic Greenhouses

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Guardian Gardening expert Kim Stoddart escaped climate change in the South East of England by moving to a frigid Welsh hilltop – then discovered her tomatoes wouldn’t grow.

Why climate-change gardening means breaking all the rules

Kim Stoddart
Sat 4 Dec 2021 22.00 AEDT

Early in 2010, I moved from a home with a small, tidy back garden in Brighton to a wild smallholding more than 200 metres above sea level in Llandysul in Wales. Concerns about the climate crisis were at the heart of my move: I was living at sea level, near an underground river, and worried about flooding. But more than anything, I longed to live somewhere I could be self-sufficient. 

After considering the options – Spain (extreme heat) and New Zealand (attractive but too far away) – I decided on Wales. Water shortages were unlikely, I thought, and property and land were affordable. So I left behind my old life to turn my passion for organic homegrown food into a full-time career – writing, running courses, making public speaking.

Gardening in this part of west Wales is very different from gardening in Brighton – the land is more suited to livestock than crops, and it has been a steep learning curve. No casual outdoor growing of tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and chillies in this cooler, wetter climate. No protection from the strong winds, no respite from the relentless rain (and, in 2018, a drought). And no fruit trees so high above sea level in a wind-ravaged spot, or so I was told. As a result, I had to adapt all my gardening techniques. 

I don’t use fertiliser for hungry Mediterranean fruits like tomatoes (which I grow in a polytunnel) because it makes them needy for more, and stops their roots seeking out natural resilience through symbiotic relationships with underground fungi. Instead make your own compost from leaf mould, and boost it with comfrey, nettles, seaweed, chicken poo and borage.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/dec/04/why-climate-change-gardening-means-breaking-all-the-rules

Polytunnels are cheap plastic greenhouses (see the top of this post). But the cheap plastic Polythene is produced from ethylene, a petroleum product.

To be fair Kim seems a pretty decent person, her social enterprise group Garden Organic “… help teachers and school professionals to develop gardening projects that teach children where their food comes from, develop their scientific and environmental awareness and encourage them to eat more fruit and vegetables.”.

But a Guardian gardening expert expressing surprise that Mediterranean vegetables refuse to grow on a Welsh hilltop, without lots of help from our friend plastic – what was she expecting? Did she really think global warming had already made Northern Welsh hills a suitable location for warm climate vegetables?

Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of Wales, lots of friendly people in Cardiff and Swansea who made me feel a welcome part of their community. But even the south of Wales is really cold and wet for much of the year, let alone some hilltop in North Wales.

The BBC predicted in 2005 that Britain would have a Mediterranean climate by 2050. But I’m guessing people hoping to grow Mediterranean climate vegetables on the hills of chilly Northern Wales will have to wait a lot longer than 2050, before they can ditch their Greenhouses.

Correction (EW): Mediterranean climate vegetables – as Tom Halla points out, tomatoes and eggplants are not originally from the Mediterranean.

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Tom Halla
December 5, 2021 6:09 pm

They are largely not Mediterranean vegetables, but Central Mexican vegetables. Or Indian veggies, like eggplant.

GregK
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 5, 2021 9:52 pm

Very largely not Mediterranean, though they enjoy Mediterranean climates, but from Central and South America like many other now common crops; corn avacados, peanuts, chocolate – the list goes on.

Botanically they are fruit but nutritionists regard them as vegetables because they are not very sweet.

Most of the UK’s tomato production is from greenhouses, even those producers not perched on a Welsh hillslope.

Our optimistic gardner would be r*****t [common Australian word suggesting up a particular creek in a leaky canoe without a paddle] without the benefits of the petrochemical industry.

tonyb(@climatereason)
Editor
Reply to  GregK
December 5, 2021 11:28 pm

Here in the balmy South West of England at sea level where we have more solar farms than almost anywhere else in the country, Tomatoes have been very hit and miss the last decade, indeed I have commented here on their increasing failure.

The last good crop was in 2018, this years was terrible. In fact crop is much to excitable a word too describe the couple of specimens that ripened.

tonyb.

HotScot
Reply to  tonyb
December 6, 2021 4:05 am

Try growing Figs. We have a Fig tree in our garden courtesy of a Greek neighbour 20 years or so ago. If vegetation is any indication of climate change, judging by the Figs that have never ripened in all those growing seasons, nothing about the climate in the SE of England has changed.

In fact, truth be told, the maturity of the fruits have been declining since the tree was planted. Our Olive tree is no better.

twobob
Reply to  HotScot
December 6, 2021 5:56 am

I have tried growing Figs.
I have a Bulgarian fig tree which is planted to the side of the property.
When I bought it, the label said it was good to -5c.
Which has proved to be true.
Every year since I planted it in 2010,I have had an abundance of figs.
I live in the West Midlands, Enjoying Fig wine.
P,S At an altitude 284 feet. ;-}

Last edited 1 month ago by twobob
MarkW2
Reply to  twobob
December 6, 2021 3:34 pm

Likewise, our fig tree produces lovely fruits in rural Herefordshire. Nothing to do with climate change, however, just a good location despite being at 600 ft.

I can remember BBC Gardeners’ World telling us how we needed to adapt to climate change over 20 years ago, as the UK would become more ‘Mediterranean’. So everyone went out and bought all sorts of plants in anticipation of warmer climes. Then the snow came and they all died.

A bit like the Met Office talking about the worst drought on record a few years ago, which would lead to all sorts of disasters. This was followed by weeks of torrential rain, which of course they failed to forecast. I kid you not.

Mother Nature just laughs at us.

Robert Maclellan
Reply to  tonyb
December 6, 2021 5:05 am

Try epsom salts, the plants are hardier even to the point of surviving some frost.

Abolition Man
December 5, 2021 6:16 pm

Eric,
How can you disparage the balmy Atlantic influence so dear to the Welsh!
Personally, if I was building a green house for my tomatoes, I would use another fossil fuel product; double-walled polycarbonate panels! Of course, I’m at almost 3,000 meters in the high desert, so I have to worry about high winds and the occasional summer monsoon hailstorm!

Scissor
Reply to  Abolition Man
December 5, 2021 8:27 pm

Propane heaters are great for warming greenhouses and give the added benefit of producing CO2, the life giving gas necessary for photosynthesis.

Anyway, she wants to be self sufficient and uses polyethylene sheeting? I would like to see her try to make some polyethylene when she needs more.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Scissor
December 5, 2021 9:43 pm

Scissor,
I can almost see her, chewing on their hides, after hunting the wild polyethylenes down with homemade bow and arrows! I have considered putting a small wood stove in my greenhouse, but then the tomatoes would be living better than I do!

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Abolition Man
December 5, 2021 11:42 pm

New campaign, “Save the Polyethylenes from Extinction!!!”

Gregg Eshelman
Reply to  Alan the Brit
December 6, 2021 1:08 am
Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
December 6, 2021 9:32 am

Thanks for the link, always wondered where they got the name for this stuff. The Nauga toy is still adorable is not very soft and cuddly.

ATheoK
Reply to  Gregg Eshelman
December 6, 2021 2:28 pm

My cousin had a T-shirt back in the 1970s, “Save the Naugadog, boycott Naugahyde!”

He had trouble walking 10 feet down a street.
Young ladies stopped him to learn more about saving naugadogs.
Guys stopped him to find out where he got the shirt.

It was the best chick magnet he ever found. Except most ladies quickly found that he was lying about naugadogs.

patrick healy
Reply to  Scissor
December 6, 2021 12:19 pm

Up here in balmy Angus in the east coast of Scotland, we grown a huge amount of soft fruit. raspberries strawberries etc.
Of course they were grown under mega square yards of polythene with lots of fossil fueled heating.
Last week we had a bit of a storm which not only knocked out all the power for several days, but also ripped the plastic off the greenhouses and deposited it all over the country side to add to the other detritus.
No sign of any global warmists coming to clean the mess up.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Scissor
December 6, 2021 1:10 pm

Propane heaters also produce CO so be careful with that

Scissor
Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
December 6, 2021 3:35 pm

Yes, proper ventilation and sensing is required.

AndyHce
Reply to  Abolition Man
December 5, 2021 8:52 pm

Having used various types of opaque plastic sheet as a privacy screen in a crowed neighborhood (hanging vertically, at about 40 degrees north latitude, barely above sea level), including some claimed to be treated for UV protection of the ‘fabric’, all started crumbling away after one season, although duct tape on rips extended some another year or two, I suspect that a Polyethylene sheet greenhouse would get to be pretty expensive in not many years.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  AndyHce
December 6, 2021 12:06 am

Polyethylene sheet greenhouse would get to be pretty expensive in not many years”

Polytunnel growing has become big business in the commercial sector in the UK and has in particular transformed the growing of soft fruits like Strawberries, extending the growing season substantially and improving fruit quality at the same time. Polytunnels have proved more cost effective than traditional glasshouses.

StephenP
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 6, 2021 1:30 am

One of the largest strawberry growers in the Ceddar Valley in Somerset uses acres of glasshouses rather than polythene, and produces fruit almost all the year round.
Heated with waste wood, lights in the darker months, and with hives of bumble bees for pollination, it is an impressive operation.
He doesn’t produce in Decenber/January to give himself and his workers a break, otherwise he could be producing every month.

Rich Davis
Reply to  StephenP
December 6, 2021 2:30 pm

Seems a bit daft. Wouldn’t it make the most sense financially to produce when the fruit is most out of season and take off when there’s a glut?

AndyHce
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 6, 2021 1:37 am

It is a bit different for a business that more than recovers its capital costs from profits (or goes broke and out of business). Home grown food can be quite nice but gardening cost can drive its cost well above supermarket prices.

MAL
Reply to  AndyHce
December 6, 2021 8:56 am

That why I don’t have a garden anymore. Time and expense it not worth it. Grew up totally dependent on a garden, grew up poor.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  MAL
December 6, 2021 9:40 am

In the US I always grew my own fresh veg but in Portugal, I can buy locally grown stuff year round and prefer to devote my garden to stuff harder to find like asparagus, rhubarb and flowers. I buy all my tomatoes, coles, onions, potatoes, cukes, squash, etc from local farmers.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  AndyHce
December 6, 2021 9:36 am

The poly sheeting used in these tunnels is surprisingly durable, lasting many growing seasons. We have these houses all over Portugal for growing tomatoes, cukes, strawberries, all sorts of fruit and veg. I had one in Virginia and never had to replace the sheeting. But you are quite correct about a lot of plastic, if it is not made specifically for outdoor use, it will last a year then degrade to tatters that are very difficult to clean up.

ATheoK
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
December 6, 2021 2:49 pm

Like AndyHce, I’ve rarely seen poly last for more than two seasons.
And I live in Virginia, now.

Out in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, etc. they barely make one season.

Location of where the plastic sheet is made is likely important.

Allegedly UV protected plastic products that were made in China rarely have sufficient UV protecting ingredients to last more than a year.

Clear plastic pots that I bought two years ago are crumbling when handled this past year. I’ve been discarding them during repotting. Most of these were only used indoors in a sunroom with insulated glass.

Colored and white plastic labels that I bought at the same time have also been crumbling. Really irritating as orchid names are important to track.

In colored plastics, the colorants provide substantial UV protection. Not so in the products from China. Red, green, yellow and white labels snap or crumble touched. I didn’t buy other colors.

White plastic lawn chairs start cracking and breaking during the second year now.

Commercial growers buy huge rolls of poly with thousands of feet. They can remove and replace covers very quickly.
Growers that require peace of mind, replace poly every year.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  ATheoK
December 7, 2021 7:55 am

You are having some very bad luck with your plastic gardening goods. The tags I use last forever, the marker wears off but tag is still good. I have good luck with pots too, they will break if dropped but, so far, none are disintegrating in the sun. You have my sympathy, your experiences seem extreme.

December 5, 2021 6:21 pm

“Concerns about the climate crisis were at the heart of my move”

Kim has judgement issues …

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  co2isnotevil
December 5, 2021 6:34 pm

She drank the koolaide. There is no hope/

whatlanguageisthis
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 6, 2021 10:13 am

At least she is trying to live it, even if she missed the boat on this one. Unlike most CAGW ‘leaders’ who have private jets, multiple houses, and ocean front property. I’m all for people making decisions for themselves, just don’t expect me to do the same, or pay for you to do it.

ATheoK
Reply to  whatlanguageisthis
December 6, 2021 3:30 pm

At least she is trying to live it”

Dabbling at growing food is not trying to live it.

A lot of people have tried cutting the cord and living off grid completely.
Most stop trying after a few years of near starvation and hauling copious cords of wood necessary to heat the house.

If Stoddart was “living it” she would go hungry if there were no vegetables ripe enough to eat. A frequent occurrence when one works a tiny garden of a few selected vegetables, not a farm with staged over time crops in multiple fields.

If Stoddart is serious about alarmist versions of “climate change” she would refuse computers, mobile phones, electric/oil/gas furnaces, shopping, buying prepackaged foods, buying prepared foods, wearing commercial clothing, wearing synthetic anything; shoes, underwear, pants, dresses, coats, etc. etc.

She’d be outdoors just before storms hit putting protection over tender plants. She’d be outside after the storm moves on exposing plants that she covered.
The same goes for early or late frost/freeze warnings

Stoddart is a pretender, feigning self sufficiency because she occasionally eats some eggs or produce she raised.

If she was serious, she wouldn’t be gardening a small plot, she’d be tilling acres.

Rocky land?
So was much of Europe, Pennsylvania and all of New England, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, etc. etc.

Farmers carried rocks they encountered to boundaries of their land/crops. Eventually using the rocks to make fences.
Every year, frost action exposes more rocks.

Odds are she believes she is raising food organically. If she depended on that garden for food she’d be other there morning, day and night killing bugs, snails and slugs. She’d be looking for signs of fungus, nutrient deficiency, excess salts, bacterial and virus infections.

She’d be out taking care of bee hives, harvesting honey; processing food for storage; putting foods into storage; sorting the foods already in storage; eating foods that have started to spoil.

AndyHce
Reply to  ATheoK
December 7, 2021 12:38 am

If one doesn’t try to be an extremist, a small garden can be quite beneficial. My small family had many meals, essentially year around, from a quite small garden plot. The home grown quality was no-question-about-it much better than from grocery stores, the same as the products of half a dozen dwarf fruit trees. Tis worked for almost 10 years, until we sold the house and moved to a place built on rock with an inch or two of camouflaging poor quality dirt overlay.

And, this was a hobby garden, that is a project for leisure time, after hours from a full time job.

Last edited 1 month ago by AndyHce
Dave Fair
Reply to  co2isnotevil
December 6, 2021 12:42 pm

I wonder if she would be able to describe this “climate crisis” she so glibly tosses out.

Reply to  Dave Fair
December 6, 2021 3:33 pm

Probably not, as nobody else seems to be able to, at least in a coherent manner consistent with the scientific method, known physics and non racist math.

Zig Zag Wanderer
December 5, 2021 6:27 pm

Spain (extreme heat)

There are plenty of places in Spain that are not particularly hot. The north Atlantic coast, for example. Definitely more pleasant and more fertile than a hilltop in Wales.

What a maroon!

Geoffrey Williams
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 5, 2021 9:43 pm

Correct. The Welsh hills are for growing grass and meat.
Vegies grow ok in the valleys and lowlands . .

saveenergy
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 6, 2021 12:40 am

“What a maroon!”

That was an explosive comment (:D

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 6, 2021 9:45 am

Ah, the problem is that Ms. Kim feared SW England was going to become tropical, which is what she gets for listening to Griff. But if she thought it would be that hot in Cornwall, imagine what she figured would happen farther south.

We would welcome some of that “catastrophic” warming about now, 13 and rainy outside, 16.3 at my desk.

Zig Zag Wanderer
December 5, 2021 6:30 pm

I don’t use fertiliser for hungry Mediterranean fruits like tomatoes (which I grow in a polytunnel) because it makes them needy for more, and stops their roots seeking out natural resilience through symbiotic relationships with underground fungi. Instead make your own compost from leaf mould, and boost it with comfrey, nettles, seaweed, chicken poo and borage.

So you don’t use fertiliser, except that you do actually use fertiliser. You just make your own, but with a lot of additional resources and effort.

bill Johnston
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 5, 2021 6:50 pm

Probably should have stated “man-made commercial fertilizers”.

AndyHce
Reply to  bill Johnston
December 5, 2021 8:53 pm

Compost makes for such nice garden soil!!

Joao Martins
Reply to  bill Johnston
December 6, 2021 8:12 am

OK. So excluding “women made fertilizers”. Understood.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 5, 2021 8:22 pm

Looks like steel tubing holding up the poly. How organic is that? And how did the seaweed get to a hilltop? Donkey cart? Gotta love the cutesy reference to poultry manure as “chicken poo”. The alarmotwits are such darlings. Comfrey in the compost – was that purchased on Amazon? Dilettantism as a cultural ideal? Dystopia anyone? If not for real farmers and plenty of petroleum, these pootsy poofs would turn into savage cannibals overnight.

gringojay
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 6, 2021 12:04 am

Comfrey can be grown in temperate climates and yield well – so presumably not used in compost as a purchased ingredient. It has a diverse spectrum of amino acids and would be a compost nitrogen ingredient (there minerals and trace minerals in it as well).

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  gringojay
December 6, 2021 9:53 am

Growing stuff just to compost it is kind of wasteful, better to just keep all kitchen waste for composting, prunings, etc. Chicken manure is a great source of nitrogen but hot. Chickens will also weed and fertilize at the same time but don’t turn them loose until the plants are well-established.

gringojay
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
December 6, 2021 1:41 pm

Your perspective ignores how prolific comfrey yields per area can be, and that once established it grows as a perennial. For example, In temperate climate of Minnesota (USA) multi-year data showed yields of up to 61 tons per acre (about 6 tons dry weight matter per acre).

The nitrogen content of comfrey accumulated from the (Minnesotan) soil is about 65% amino acids and about 35% other nitrogen compounds. Plant roots can actually take up individual amino acids and some have quite unique properties.

As I’ve elsewhere mentioned the plant phyto-hormone cytokinin I’ll follow through using it as an example of comfrey amino acid relevance.
There are 2 kinds of that phyto-hormone (iso-prenoid and aromatic), whereas both are derived from adenine.

Plants’ synthesis of adenine involves steps that, in part, use the amino acids glycine and glutamine. Comfrey has glycine amino acids and it also contains glutamic acid, which is what glutamine can be made from.

More adenine made by plants that is not made into cytokinin reduces the degradation of phyto-hormone cytokinin (supposedly because adenine ties up the naturally occurring cytokinin oxid-ase enzyme). And plant complexing of adenine (as adenine sulphate) acts synergistically with cytokinin to boost starch metabolism by increasing enzyme levels of a relevant pathway (oxidative pentose phosphate pathway enzymes glucose-6-phosphate de-hydrogen-ase & 6-phospho-gluconate de-hydrogen-ase).

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  gringojay
December 7, 2021 7:51 am

I have grown comfrey, it takes a lot of space for a plant that does not produce fruit or other edible stuff. When I grew it, the chickens ate some. Apart from growing it to enrich the compost pile, which I see is considerable, why give it space?

gringojay
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
December 7, 2021 12:47 pm

Original post quotes gardener who states wants comfrey for compost. That justifies giving it space irregardless of it’s edibility.

Scissor
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 6, 2021 4:29 am

I’ve seen many use PVC tubing, which is another inexpensive plastic having many uses. It containing chlorine introduces some issues.

William Wilson
Reply to  Scissor
December 6, 2021 7:19 am

It is made using chlorine but does not contain chlorine. The chlorine is bonded to carbon unlike diatomic chlorine molecules.

Scissor
Reply to  William Wilson
December 6, 2021 3:39 pm

I meant the element chlorine, as in its elemental composition. A major issue being the formation of dioxin and other nasty chemicals if improperly disposed of.

ATheoK
Reply to  Scissor
December 6, 2021 3:49 pm

Electrical conduit is popular.

menace
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 5, 2021 11:13 pm

Comfrey is an anti-fungal
so much for symbiotic relationships with underground fungi

Rick
Reply to  menace
December 6, 2021 6:46 am

Hmmm…would what help with blight?

William Wilson
Reply to  Rick
December 6, 2021 7:20 am

Tomatoes in greenhouses not affected by blight. Never any blight in over 20 years ( S Scotland).

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Rick
December 6, 2021 1:08 pm

What do you mean by blight? With tomatoes most people are referring to end blossom rot, where tomato turns black starting at the bottom.
Calcium deficiency.
Here in calgary i use a product called zeolite, a type of fractured volcanic rock, big grains, comes in bags, add to soil to add trace minerals but also keeps soil loose

great stuff.

Joao Martins
Reply to  menace
December 6, 2021 8:15 am

I was thinking about a symbiosis with an underground fungus, Fusarium, which is very happy when it has plants to infect and rot…

(no sarc intended: “symbiosis” means “organisms living together” and for many researchers it encompassed associations that others classify as diseases; actually, mycorrhizae are plant roots infected by fungi)

Last edited 1 month ago by Joao Martins
Retired_Engineer_Jim
December 5, 2021 6:57 pm

200 metres is high altitude? I am reminded of “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain”.

tonyb(@climatereason)
Editor
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
December 5, 2021 11:32 pm

Don’t forget temperatures drop 3 degrees every thousand feet so the hilltop would be 2 degrees cooler than average and if you add in a cool summer then an already marginal crop will fail

tonyb

John Klug
December 5, 2021 7:25 pm

OK. I live at 168M. My neighbors grow tomatoes. I grow plums, pears, and apples. I am at only 45 degree latitude. I see Cardiff is at 51 degrees latitude, and it is at the south end of Wales. If you were in Italy at 200M, I suspect you could grow tomatoes, so I think there is more here than altitude.

Scissor
Reply to  John Klug
December 5, 2021 8:41 pm

Yes, I live at over 1600 meters and I almost always have a good crop of tomatoes. My soil requires addition of phosphorous in addition to fertilizer. Nothing wrong with cow manure.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Scissor
December 6, 2021 12:02 am

Very old joke looming with all this talk of “compost”, “fertiliser”! However I won’t say it, oh heck, (Wife) “My husband is looking to gather some more fertilizer, (neighbour) Don’t you mean compost? (Wife) Don’t be daft it’s taken me 15 years to get him to say fertilizer!!!

Joao Martins
Reply to  Alan the Brit
December 6, 2021 8:37 am

Yes, technically, a “compost” is not a “fertilizer”. Plants feed on minerals, not organics; in composts the proportions of the nutrients are very different from what plants need. Composts as especially useful to correct the physical characteristics of the soil (ability for water retention, aeration, etc.) and to serve as “traps” for the nutrients (the minerals are adsorbed or chelated to the compost particles and thus they remain in the soil and are not carried away by mild rainwater or irrigation, for instance).

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  John Klug
December 5, 2021 11:26 pm

45’N is the latitude of Bordeaux famous for producing wine a lot of UK expats live not far away in the Dordogne because of a more clement climate than found in the UK; many grow tomatoes outdoors.
Growing tomatoes outdoors in most of the UK is a hit and miss hobby. Most years you’ll get some, but not every year. In Scotland much more difficult. At one time the Clyde Valley was famous, in Scotland anyway, for tomatoes but commercially these were grown in greenhouses heated with coal. But things were better in the MWP.

There’s an interesting reference to figs being grown for King David I (1084-1153) in the Clyde Valley.

“How the Clyde Valley was once the fruit basket of Scotland | The Scotsman”
https://www.scotsman.com/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/how-clyde-valley-was-once-fruit-basket-scotland-613747

bonbon
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
December 6, 2021 3:06 am

And Bordeaux wine is very touch and go, bad for the nerves when looking for good vintage. Which is why a lot of Brits went to Portugal, and presto Port.
No idea yet how Bordeaux fares this year with terrible weather!

Joao Martins
Reply to  bonbon
December 6, 2021 8:58 am

Not realy, they are very different products. You are right, and you are wrong.

Before the Brits adpted Port (actually, before Port was invented) they bougth Portuguese table wine, which was better that the French (kept better before changing into vinegar; possibly because higher alcohol content).

Then French introduced a technological “innovation” (that can be traced to the medicine of early Middle Age, at least): fortified wine aromatized with wormwood, what later became vermouth: this product could keep well for much longer.

In the 18th century, in Portugal was introduced another “innovation” (that can also be traced to Middle Age medicine and alchemy), wine fortified with wine spirits (alcohol distilled from wine, like grappa, eau de vie,…): the fermentation could be stopped leaving some sugar, the high alcohol content preserved the beverage for very long, it was much more agreable to the taste than wormwood wine, it could enhance flavours when ageing in oak casks but, deffinitely, it was not a wine to go with the meals, it was something of higher nobility.

Wine fortified with the same technology, made from a different set of grape varieties in the Madeira Islands is a distinct product, though at the same aristocratic level among wines: a good choice for the American Founding Fathers cellebrate independence without consuming the product adopted by the Britons…

I almost forgot: in my little country there are also great wines to go with meals, at or above the grade of most Bordeaux.

Last edited 1 month ago by Joao Martins
Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Joao Martins
December 6, 2021 10:08 am

I much prefer Portuguese wines to French and am quite partial to Vino Verde and jeropiga. Port is an essential, however.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
December 6, 2021 12:08 pm

Jeropiga is a kind of barefoot Port wine, the technology is the same although at its minimal sophistication… it is made everywhere (not only in the Port producing region), out of the juice of any variety of grapes, and fermentation stopped by adding wine spirits. Usually, with no enological work, jeropiga does not age very well.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Joao Martins
December 6, 2021 2:04 pm

Thanks for the information, I figured it was low-brow but it is also very tasty for a cheap tipple. And if it doesn’t age well, all the more reason to drink it up….

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Joao Martins
December 6, 2021 1:04 pm

Love port

Joao Martins
Reply to  John Klug
December 6, 2021 8:27 am

You are right, there are photoperiods, long and short days, light intensity, etc. Basically, there is a lot (I mean, A LOT) of science missing in the unquestionably good intentions of the lady… For instance, that idiotic idea that plant live out of the thin air, without nutrients… if a fruit or vegetable crop is grown year after year on the same soil, the fruits, leaves, etc. that are harveted and taken away mean that nutrients are taken out of that soil and exported elsewhere. So, they must be replenished, lest the next crops will not have defficient nutrition, and thus be more fragile, and thus produce less (or lower quality). As in animals, hunger is a very serious illness in plants!

Pauleta
December 5, 2021 7:35 pm

Try coffee next, maybe bananas.

Scissor
Reply to  Pauleta
December 5, 2021 8:44 pm

I’ve always wanted a mango tree and definitely citrus trees. I actually grew bananas when I resided in Texas. They are more work than they are worth.

Reply to  Scissor
December 5, 2021 10:09 pm

Scissor,
If you ever move back to Texas try growing Osage orange for its valuable oils.

Scissor
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 6, 2021 4:19 am

I recall seeing those and didn’t know what they were. Thanks for the links, especially about the oils. 🙂

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 6, 2021 10:17 am

Osage Orange will grow very well in eastern Pennsylvania. The wood yields an excellent yellow dye also.

ATheoK
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
December 6, 2021 4:45 pm

Osage Orange grows very well in Eastern Pennsy.
Conshohocken and many other eastern towns and the rural areas in between have abundant fencerow plantings of black walnut, black locust and Osage orange.

Walnut is a premium furniture wood, a decent lutherie wood and a great firewood. It is a much lighter wood than black locust and Osage orange. A lightness that makes it one of the best woods for firearm stocks and grips.

Black locust is a premium firewood, fencepost wood and bears tasty sweet pendulous flowers every spring.

Osage orange is a premium bow wood, fence post wood, musical instrument wood and bears amusing knobby green fruits.

Both black locust and Osage orange trees have murderous thorns in the canopy.

Last edited 1 month ago by ATheoK
ATheoK
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 6, 2021 4:32 pm

Osage orange grows from the Mid-Atlantic states across west through Kansas and Arkansas.

Osage orange wood was and is a premium wood preferred by bowyers for making bows. A Native American favorite bow wood.

Luthiers report that Osage-orange make a very good musical wood for instruments. It only lacks a bit in the beauty department.

Osage orange wood is very hard, fine grained, incredibly strong/hard and rings when tapped.
comment image?itok=OD6TMJsQ

Osage orange wood is the premium firewood. More BTUs and less ash.

The sap of the tree and the Osage orange fruit is very sticky and functions as a glue. Cut a fruit in half and you’ll discover how hard it is to remove the sticky stuff.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Scissor
December 6, 2021 10:11 am

Mangos require long sunny days, grow well in south Florida. I have lots of citrus now and an avocado and two macadamia nut trees. It remains to be seen if the later will ever set fruit….

Scissor
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
December 6, 2021 3:41 pm

I’m jelly.

markl
December 5, 2021 8:05 pm

It’s easy to ignore the benefits of petroleum but never possible to do without it in today’s society.

Geoff Sherrington
December 5, 2021 8:43 pm

What is an underground river?
Why was it a threat?
Is it because they exist mainly in fairy tales which have many threats to affect the minds of people still trying to reach adult status.
How do you have both relentless rain and a drought?
How do you improve garden yields with seaweed, which has the nutritional value of an old rubber boot?
I have been to lovely gardens in North Wales, like Bodnant, but there the gardeners are trained with classical, proven methods and do not rely, as far as I know, on fairy tales. Geoff S

gringojay
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 5, 2021 11:27 pm

Seaweed contains the plant phyto-hormone cytokinin in the form of zeatin (cis-zeatin). Zeatin improves cell division and you get better vegetative shoots forming when zeatin levels are boosted.

Zeatin (as trans-zeatin and ribosides of trans-zeatin) move daily from roots to shoots in correlation with the nitrogen supply. Cytokinin level increases lead to more conjugation of another plant phyto-hormone (abscisic acid, “ABA”) & by lowering ABA activity cytokinin leads of increased messenger RNA levels of the nitrogen processing enzyme nitrate reduct-ase.

Being that mention of tomatoes has been made I’ll add that the main tomato kinds of cytokinin phyto-hormone are zeatin and zeatin riboside. Those familiar with planting tomatoes will have seen their capability for robust growth; which is in part because zeatin riboside is a very active form of the phyto-hormone cytokinin.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  gringojay
December 7, 2021 2:08 pm

gringo,
All plants contain the chemicals you mention. The question is, is there value added in extracting it from seaweed and adding it to the garden? Far, far from convinced that this is economically viable, see it as just a trendy fad. Geoff S

gringojay
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 7, 2021 7:50 pm

Geoff S.,
Plants must first make “the chemicals” I commented about from what it takes in and assimilated. Apparently the cited link used a seaweed product which had some viable enough to raise those chemicals’ active level in the moth bean experiments producing different growth parameters vs. controls (which only had their self-made level of those chemicals).

Lay WUWT readers may be unsure what is the context here, so I’ll suggest an analogy. We can make Vitamin D, yet our active Vitamin D level may vary so for some reasons we may take Vitamin D and get more active Vitamin D.

WUWT readers probably do not know how expensive it is to buy particular isolated plant growth regulating phyto-hormones (&/or their synthetic analogs) and that there are technical aspects to use them appropriately (dosage, solvent, delivery, timing, storage). If seaweed/extracts appropriately deployed make it easier to get somewhat similar benefits and it is convenient to obtain/store then it had popular utility.

Describing seaweed agricultural utilization as a “fad” is inaccurate – even a comment on this thread highlighted it’s traditional usage by Jersey potato growers. I checked out that Original Post’s gardener who has claimed 30+ years of exclusively organic gardening and assume whatever specific seaweed tactic currently employs is, in their judgement, “economically viable”.

Since 2013 that organic gardener writes for a major UK newspaper so by now surely knows how to formulate N-P-K so wouldn’t be ignorant about the average analysis of seaweed’s. Below is one variety of simple 0-12-0 sea bird “poo” that, since uses chicken “poo”, which might be useful.

image.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by gringojay
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 5, 2021 11:56 pm

I was living at sea level, near an underground river,

Geoff
She is referring to a winter bourne, (same word as burn in Scots) a dry chalk downland valley that hosts an underground steam which floods in winter when the water table rises. e.g. Heavy rain causes flood problems in Wiltshire 20 December 2012

Seaweed has a high mineral salt content and is an excellent mulch. One of the explanations for the former superb taste of the Jersey Royal potato was the use of locally gathered seaweed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Philip Mulholland.
gringojay
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 6, 2021 1:52 am

Jersey Royal potatoes are likely what is referred to as salt tolerant. The seaweed accompanied salt Na+ at “moderate” levels aids spud tubers filling.

Salt can increase the enzyme activity of starch synth-ase (enzyme to synthesize starch). Tubers get increasing sugars that provide osmotic stabilization against salt, among other qualities.

Salt will cause potato roots’ levels of the plant phyto-hormone abscisic acid (“ABA”) to rise. As root ABA rises the phyto-hormone cytokinin (which, as I posted earlier, seaweed contains) goes up from the root to the leaves. This cytokinin shunt is actually a requirement for tuber filling; ABA increasing in the potato root is what promotes greater tuber initiation (& filling).

The bitter potato tuber alkaloids (glyco-alkaloids of solanine and chaconine) can change from very high concentrations when tubers are young to tubers with less glyco(“sugar”)-alkaloids when mature. My surmise is the Jersey Royals do respond to salt foisted on the soil by seaweed with such a reduction of bitter compounds at maturity; as well as a higher ratio of starch/sugars at maturity – hence variety tastes better when grown with seaweed.

[Different varieties of potatoes respond to salt levels differently and usually worse in excessive salt conditions.]

Last edited 1 month ago by gringojay
tonyb(@climatereason)
Editor
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 5, 2021 11:58 pm

Geoff

Whilst the author should have known better than to move to so high at such a latitude there are such things as underground rivers, which can rise after very heavy rain over a season, some 20 feet. I know 2 people who were flooded by one.

We have what we call the Devon monsoon often in the winter, but can still have a technical drought in summer and Autumn

Seaweed is very good for many plants and used to be harvested from the sea shore here in Devon to spread on local farmers fields.

Unfortunately they are now classified as waste and if removed have to go to land fill. One famous tomato liquid feed used to boast it contained seaweed nutrients.

Those lovely west coast gardens will typically be on the coast, at sea level and have established tree shelter belts.

It sounds as if the author is naive.

tonyb

roaddog
Reply to  tonyb
December 6, 2021 6:06 am

Worse than naive. “We’re All Going to Die,” episode 15,114.

saveenergy
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 6, 2021 1:04 am

The world-famous Bodnant Garden near Conwy in north Wales was among the worst-hit spots. Over 50 trees were uprooted including a 51-metre ‘Champion’ coast redwood — the largest of its kind in Wales — while many hybrid rhododendrons that are unique to the property have been lost.
https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/gallery/18-pictures-show-trail-destruction-22328175

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/press-release/irreplaceable-trees-lost-in-storm-arwen-says-national-trust
( Includes the ubiquitous comment …
“extreme weather events of this kind, which are becoming ever more common as the climate changes.”)

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 6, 2021 9:26 am

When I lived in a flat in East Finchley (North London) the house next door had an inspection plate in the back yard which afforded views of a stream over which the houses had been built many years before. Not exactly an underground river but interesting nevertheless.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 6, 2021 10:21 am

South of Porto is Aviero with a huge lagoon. In the past a local business activity was collecting seaweed from the lagoon and selling it to farmers to enrich their fields. Portuguese soils could be a bit more fertile….

ATheoK
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 6, 2021 5:54 pm

Underground rivers are not fairy tales.

In the USA, they are typically called “limestone creeks“. Many of those ‘creeks’ are larger than rivers in the UK.
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Across America, farms used limestone springs for storing foods that need cool air for foods. Low stone buildings are built where the springs exit onto the surface.

Running underground, the water is much cooler than summer air and warmer than winter air. Perfect temperatures for storing perishables.

Typically, the distance the spring/creek/river runs on the surface is very short, a few miles at most, often only a few hundred yards.

When looking for drinking water in the wilderness, it is best to look for water bubbling up out of the ground. Running waters are fed by groundwater seeps, springs, etc., and limestone springs are a substantial contributions of that water where underground limestone is abundant.
The water filtered underground is cold, clear and usually safe to drink, barring mankind pollution.

The limestone seeps, springs, creeks and rivers that I’ve seen literally gush from a cave opening and most disappear into another cave opening.

Hidden River Cave”comment image

“Lost River Cave”

“Ripley’s Believe it or Not states that Lost River is the shortest and deepest underground river known and is supposedly 437 feet deep.”

comment image

“Pennsylvania Spring Creeks”
I didn’t find any good descriptions or pictures, but I’ve fished the Letort limestone creek from it’s cave outlet source to where it drops back below ground.

“The Chalk Streams of Hampshire”

The three river valleys that seem to personify the county of Hampshire are the Itchen, the Test and the Meon.

These clear streams that spring, filtered through the chalk, cut down into the Hampshire chalk bedrock and have produced some of the clearest, most beautiful stretches of water in southern England”

Reply to  ATheoK
December 7, 2021 5:01 am

Thanks ATheoK.

The River Mole in Surrey is another good example of an occasional underground river. The river crosses the chalk outcrop of the North Downs thru the Mole Gap near Dorking where it sometimes disappears underground during conditions of low flow.

ATheoK
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 7, 2021 12:11 pm

Our limestone creeks/rivers in the USA tend to be open cavities in limestone rock layers.
When water tables drop, caves are opened for exploration.

It takes a lot of rain to affect limestone waters as they are groundwater, not surface water drainages. Water seeps through beds of gravel, sand and limestone slowly.

Like UK’s chalk streams, many of limestone springs/creeks/rivers eventually enter a river draining to the sea.

Other than that there isn’t much difference between UKs chalk underlayment and America’s massive beds of limestone.
Well, our limestones are mostly mottled tan-gray and UK’s beds of chalk are bright white.

ATheoK
Reply to  ATheoK
December 7, 2021 12:39 pm

I posted the information regarding Hampshire valley rivers because there was/is significant exchange between scientists/fishermen comparing Pennsylvania’s limestone rivers to Hampshire’s famous rivers.

I should’ve pointed out that Hampshire is not an isolated example. Anywhere in the UK where there are chalk beds, there are limestone springs/rivers.

What is different between our rivers and the UKs is that navigable waters in the USA are considered public waters open to public access. Private property riverbanks are not part of the access in a number of states.
Navigable is generally considered water able to float a canoe occasionally.

December 5, 2021 9:20 pm

Yesterday I drove along the A697 in the Borders.
The wind blown devastation to the old beech trees and pine shelter belts along side the road near Greenlaw was amazing.
I think she has yet to learn about what damage the wind can do in the uplands of the British Isles.

Rhys Jaggar
Reply to  Philip Mulholland.
December 6, 2021 8:18 am

You should have seen the devastation in South East England in October 1987. Hardly uplands down there – the Downs would be called ‘the Lowlands’ in Scotland…..

Geoffrey Williams
December 5, 2021 9:51 pm

I suspect Kim Stoddard’s days as a green organic horticulturist are trull numbered ! !
No hard feelings . .

Mike Edwards
December 5, 2021 11:52 pm

the land is more suited to livestock than crops”

Indeed. Which is why Wales is famed for its sheep and cattle. A reminder to all those who advocate vegetarianism as a “solution” to our problems that there are lots of places where it is best to leave the vegetarianism to our livestock and tuck in to a good steak.

Rhys Jaggar
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 6, 2021 8:22 am

It’s all about choosing the right vegetables to grow in your climate. I notice that in hotter, drier years, certain crops do better whereas if you have a wetter cooler late spring and early summer, then other vegetables do brilliantly. If you want a ‘weather hedge’, try growing potatoes and winter squash. If it’s hotter, squash will do better, if it’s wet and cooler, potatoes thrive. Beans do better with damp warmth, whereas parsnips and carrots do better in drier climates.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Mike Edwards
December 6, 2021 9:30 am

There is often a clue as to what works best in a certain area.

I am still wondering when Brighton was last flooded.

diggs
December 6, 2021 12:02 am

“”But more than anything, I longed to live somewhere I could be self-sufficient””

I assume then she invented and built the polytunnel on her own as well as the computer to type the article allowing her to make an income while being “self-sufficient”. Ironically, one could not even hope to make an attempt at being self-sufficient without first relying on the 21st century advances that are build on the shoulders of fossil fuels.

Turtles all the way down.

DiggerUK
Reply to  diggs
December 6, 2021 2:10 am

Still to come……. Book deal (£erching) whirlwind of TV and radio interviews (£erching, £erching) 13 part mini gardening series on Netflix (£erching, £erching, £erching)…… and let’s not forget the product endorsement adverts for Petroleum Based Plastic Polytunnel Greenhouses to finish off with, kerching…_

Last edited 1 month ago by DiggerUK
Voltron
December 6, 2021 12:20 am

I was under the impression you could only grow sheep on any Welsh hillside and at a a stretch possibly grow most letters of the alphabet, but no vowels – hence the language

griff
December 6, 2021 12:56 am

We will still use petroleum for some essential plastics, we just need to stop burning it.

Though given the environmental impact of waste plastic, it will be a lot less plastic.

Greytide
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 1:21 am

Cherry picking then!

Philip Clarke
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 3:16 am

Actually, the steel frame probably caused more emissions than the cover.

“By allowing you to grow food throughout the whole year, by increasing yields of produce, and by reducing losses to pests, disease or inclement weather, a polytunnel can allow individuals to reduce, or even eliminate, the need to buy food. The food we eat accounts for a huge proportion of our individual carbon footprints. Fossil fuels are used to grow much of the food available to buy in supermarkets, and additional carbon costs are involved in transporting food around the world.”

https://blog.firsttunnels.co.uk/polytunnels-environmentally-friendly/

Scissor
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 4:24 am

Healthcare will just have to cut back, for instance they can just go back to glass syringes and tubing, wooden prosthetic limbs, iron maidens, etc.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 4:54 am

The last time I checked the vast majority of waste plastics in the oceans comes from two main sources, China & India, but of course it is standard procedure for eco-bunnies to deliberately imply that it actually comes from the evil wicked West, not our more Eastern cousins!!!

Gerry, England
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 9:33 am

You wouldn’t expect griff to understand that a lot of plastics are produced as a byproduct of refining transports fuels – diesel, petrol, kerosene – and costs would soar if this wasn’t the case.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 9:46 am

Petrochemicals provide the chemical building blocks for most medicinal drugs: nearly 99% of pharmaceutical feedstocks and reagents are derived from petrochemicals.

Inexpensive single use plastics used in medicine and essential to reducing risks of infection, and many advanced materials for use inside the body with lower risks of rejection are made from petrochemicals.

Modern medicine would not exist without petrochemicals.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 12:41 pm

As George Carlin once said, maybe god (now Gaia) put us here to invent plastic?

ATheoK
Reply to  griff
December 6, 2021 7:24 pm

We will still use petroleum for some essential plastics, we just need to stop burning it.”

Another silly fantasy giffie!
A typical flying pink and purple unicorn fantasyland without any connection to reality.

Renewables are unsuited to heavy industry.

Electric generators Using hydro, nuclear, gas or coal produce high quality consistent electricity. Even then, industry buys and installs expensive line conditioners to hold consistent frequency, voltage and amperage. Consistency renewables are incapable of producing.

Which describes the heavy forming mills that turn general plastic and plastic pellets into finished product.

Renewables are unable to manufacture their own components.

Rod Evans
December 6, 2021 12:57 am

Actually the message in this article is it is better to live up on a small Welsh hillside than try and live in Brighton.
Many may not know it, but Brighton is the Green capital of the UK. It is the only place that has ever elected a Green Party MP.
That could explain why the oh so self sufficient writer for the Guardian, and lecturer on all things organic had to leave Brighton.
Even she could not stand the Green/woke hypocrisy practiced there any more.

Gerry, England
Reply to  Rod Evans
December 6, 2021 9:34 am

Actually,thinking about it, sheep are also the best thing to have on the South Downs in Brighton.

Rhys Jaggar
December 6, 2021 1:23 am

Whilst I am sure that Mr Worrall is an expert on all things Wales, I am somewhat surprised that he claims that Llandysul is in ‘northern Wales’.

Last time I looked it was on the border of Cardigan and Camarthenshire, in the Teifi valley.

Wales is indeed cooler than the SE of England, but not radically so, indeed the earliest potatoes grown on the UK mainland are grown less than 50 miles from Llandysul on the Pembrokeshire coast.

As for growing apples there, one would be inclined to suggest the Bardsey apple, as that cultivar was found growing on Bardsey island, just off the coast of NW Wales. It has the characteristic of surviving wind, rain etc etc.

Mike Stoddart (no relation)
December 6, 2021 1:57 am

Llandysul is in South Wales!

PaulC
December 6, 2021 2:24 am

Llandysul isn’t in North Wales.

Ed Zuiderwijk
December 6, 2021 2:39 am

So now you know it. Using fertiliser makes the plants needy for more. Wow! Starve baby, starve.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
December 6, 2021 11:49 am

As I heard one Greek colleague say, by the time Albanian communism was crumbling and many Albanians crossed the border to Greece: “The come hungry and in Greece they can eat. The problem is, they become used to it”…

Last edited 1 month ago by Joao Martins
Climate believer
December 6, 2021 4:26 am

Not much in common, New Zealand, Spain and Wales, seems a bizarre list, but I’m sure she had her reasons. Sheep maybe? Real ale consumption.

Even stranger is she chose Wales to avoid flooding, going from a place with an average of 850mm of rain per year, to a place with +1220mm.

Llandysul in Wales is a village built next to a river, the Afon Teifi. It, like all rivers, at some time or another will flood. It did this year back in February.

Her choice seems to fly in the face of reason, but then……….Guardian writer.

Anyway, I’m sure the local Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists) members were delighted to see another English yuppy increase property prices and dilute their country’s demographics. Back in the day they used to burn holiday cottages owned by the English.

A topical comedy show back then called “Not the nine o’ Clock news” cracked the line:
“come home to a real fire…..buy a cottage in Wales”.

I can pretty much guarantee that she ain’t “self-sufficient”, poly tunnel be damned.

…….not forgetting her metropolitan use, and abuse of the word “organic”….her magic word for all that’s good, except no, that’s not how that works.

pigs_in_space
December 6, 2021 4:31 am

“some hilltop in North Wales”.
Llandysul is NOT in North Wales!

I don’t suppose this “Kim .. a pretty decent person” could be bothered to learn a word of Welsh language, which her move with her ENGLISHNESS from Brighton is annihilating.

2hotel9
December 6, 2021 4:40 am

Remember, kids, you can not be “self sufficient” without oil, gas, coal, hydro and nuclear. THESE are the only renewable sources of energy and a plethora of other things. You’re welcome.

Doug D
December 6, 2021 5:16 am

I used plastic greenhouses in western Washington for the same reasons …protection from rainy weather and extension of growing season .. very easy to build and maintain if it is well braced …until the morning I found it flat under a layer if snow . My winter crops crushed and partially destroyed . A framed greenhouse was my spring project . I advise double walling inside and out trapping a layer of air. I grew tomatoes all winter that way

Alba
December 6, 2021 5:57 am

“Did she really think global warming had already made Northern Welsh hills a suitable location for warm climate vegetables?”
No, she didn’t. That’s because she moved to Llandysul, which is located in South-West Wales.
Not even sure about the hills, either. “Llandysul lies in south Ceredigion in the valley of the River Teifi”. (Wikipedia)
Diolch yn fawr.
It reminds me of the student a niece of mine met in Cambridge. She thought she had come to the north of England. That’s southerners for you.

roaddog
December 6, 2021 6:09 am

Any appropriately culturally attuned immigrant would, of course, move to Wales to mine coal. The nerve of these wokes.

John K. Sutherland
December 6, 2021 6:32 am

Another twit, buts heads with the real world.

William Wilson
December 6, 2021 6:59 am

Hope she got permission before taking the seaweed unless it was growing below high tide mark. Bet she didn’t. Townies. Twll din bob Sais.

Last edited 1 month ago by William Wilson
Reply to  William Wilson
December 6, 2021 10:50 am

I sea what you did there.

Peta of Newark
December 6, 2021 7:02 am

She broke The Primary Rule for ‘moving’ or emigration, migration or whatever you wanna call it
If me you anybody goes to a ‘new place’ with the idea of living there, the first thing you do is take a look around and see what ‘survives‘ there.
i.e. What plants critters herbs flowers weeds whatever etc are growing and flourishing.

If you then take it upon yourself to eat those things during your stay, then you yourself will ‘survive’ in that new place.

Its that simple. Do we see now where she went wrong?

PS: She did have the right idea though. She got close.
The Very Best Tomatoes do indeed grow on the sides of mountains but, not especially *any* old mountain
Tomatoes love to grow on the sides of recently extinct or even, still-active, volcanoes.

Mmmm. Why’s that then?
Easy, tomatoes, being Nightshades, are VERY hungry plants

Soooooo…
At which point The Collective Groan goes up – peta is back on the subject of soil erosion

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 6, 2021 8:27 am

“She broke The Primary Rule for ‘moving’ or emigration, migration or whatever you wanna call it”

I learned this helpful hint a long ago: the “i” in immigration can be thought of as someone or some group coming more-or-less permanently into a given location to live . . .the “e” in emigration can be thought of thought of as someone or some group exiting a given location to live elsewhere.

Hence, any immigrant was necessarily, in the very recent past, an emigrant.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gordon A. Dressler
Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 6, 2021 12:37 pm

Yup, tomatoes need to be fed to death, feed with every watering, rotate location every year or do lots of soil amendments.
Also like lots of sun and heat.
Wales seems like unlikely candidate without lots of “positive externalities”, ie heat and light from fossil fuels.

Jeff Alberts
December 6, 2021 8:30 am

making public speaking”

Does that phrase have any meaning?

Pat Frank
December 6, 2021 10:36 am

Concerns about the climate crisis were at the heart of my move: I was living at sea level, near an underground river, and worried about flooding. But more than anything, I longed to live somewhere I could be self-sufficient.

To be fair Kim seems to be a traumatized person.

No one is self-sufficient on a wind-swept Welsh hilltop. Kalahari bushmen are self-sufficient. Living dirt-poor on a backbreaking farm and burning wood to survive the winter is self-sufficient.

Kim has been scared to death by the doom mongers. She hasn’t the education or perspicacity or perhaps the personality to see through them. So she lives in angst-ridden delusion with the inner life of a modern flagellant, and earns her livelihood writing about penitence-through-action for the like-traumatized.

keith robinson
December 6, 2021 1:18 pm

‘the land is more suited to livestock ‘
Odd that because Moonbat who lives in the area as told us the only reason it’s sheep not crops is because the farmers are stupid and evil. Don’t tell me he was talking total BS!….. again

ATheoK
December 6, 2021 2:11 pm

But more than anything, I longed to live somewhere I could be self-sufficient.”

Self sufficient?
Did she purchase 20 plus acres?
She no longer shops for main groceries every few days?

Little quarter acre garden plots are dilettante efforts that only put a few fresh vegetables on the table for a few weeks of the year.

Winter squash and classic cabbage will provide vegetables longer than a few weeks, provided one has a large cooler to store vegetables and keep them cold.

To process and store other vegetables requires abundant fossil fuels.
One year, I and a girlfriend processed enough tomatoes during hot and humid August weeks, that wallpaper started peeling off the walls in the kitchen.

Even freezing vegetables requires some processing, blanching vegetables before packaging and immediately freezing them.

If “Guardian Gardening expert Kim Stoddart” isn’t writing about how much time she is spending processing vegetables, she is nowhere near self sufficient or even dependent upon her garden for putting vegetables on the table.

I don’t use fertiliser for hungry Mediterranean fruits like tomatoes (which I grow in a polytunnel) because it makes them needy for more, and stops their roots seeking out natural resilience through symbiotic relationships with underground fungi. Instead make your own compost from leaf mould, and boost it with comfrey, nettles, seaweed, chicken poo and borage.”

Fertilizer is fertilizer. No amount of pretending changes her soil amendments into a holy class of fertilizer.
Instead, from the description, it also appears to be a dilettante effort too. Leaves do not become mulch overnight or even over months.

yes, she could be filling one of those plastic drums used for composting, but that is a miniscule amount of mulch that suffices for small gardens.

Then there is the problem regarding how she is feeding the trees?
Leaves composting over a year or two return nutrients to the soil that trees used to grow those leaves.

Farm yards require tons of of mulch in place of fertilizer. Tons of leaves and plant debris that must be forked over several times a year. Tons of fun starting at one end of a mulch pile and forking it over a yard or so, from one end to the other, then forking it back into position.

chicken poo?
Is she is raising a few birds for fresh eggs?
Or is she raising dozens of chickens to put chicken on the table several days a week?

Cleaning out a couple handfuls of “chicken poo” hardly assaults the nose or eyes. Cleaning out the poo from sixty to a hundred chickens from the chicken roost burns unprotected noses and other delicate membranes, and will do so until the “poo” is rendered safe by rain, weather and time.

Rabbit poo also works extremely well too. And one gets more poo from one meat rabbit than a number of chickens. Like piles of chicken poo, rabbit excrement needs weather and aging to soften it’s harshness.

Movieland images highlight families practicing husbandry where a designated family member catches a chicken or two for dinner…

Chickens raised for eggs and chickens raised for meat gain weight and reach peak performance at different ages.
Egg layers will start laying eggs at early maturity and lay up to 300plus eggs a year. Reaching that egg laying consistency during their second year.

Meat chickens nowadays are harvested within weeks to a maximum couple of months. Meat chickens put on weight at incredible rates. After a certain age, they may gain more fat, but generally they work the muscles toughening the bird.

Harvest at six weeks is where the fryers come from. Harvesting around eight weeks brings us roasters. Harvesting older birds brings us stew birds.

Which is why people harvest the kind of bird they desire all at once and then freeze the birds for future use.

What is missing from Kim Stoddart’s fanciful life is what happens when disease rears it’s ugly form. Is she keeping in contact with agriculture departments? What will she do when a bird infected with avian-flu dies on her property?

Some asides:
A brother of mine called me a couple of decades ago. He knew that I fly fish and tie flies for fishing; he offered me feathers from chickens he was then harvesting.

I declined. Feathers from 6 week old chickens are of little use for tying flies.
Like egg layers, best quality and consistent production comes when the bird is fully mature at 2 plus years.
Even then, the chickens need good genetics to grow quality feathers.

Back in the 1980s, I attended a presentation on growing orchids in a greenhouse in Canada.
The presenter pointed to the rivulets of water running down the greenhouse exterior and remarked that they were water because of ground up dollar bills.
And he was running a full double pane glass greenhouse.

Keeping Stoddart’s plastic film garden cover warm to lengthen the growing season will require a lot of fossil fuel warming.
It wouldn’t hurt Stoddart to boost the CO₂ levels in her little plastic garden cover for better tastier yields.

goldminor
December 6, 2021 3:51 pm

I have been using 6 mil greenhouse plastic for the last 5 winters. The material is fantastic, and the results are simply a bit amazing. The greenhouse allows me to grow a citrus tree and other plants right through the winter. Temps in this area will drop into the 20sF and occasionally into the teens. My Rangpur lime is now 11 years old. If I didn’t top it every fall, then the tree would be around 30 feet tall by now.

The dwarf peach also sits under the cover. It blooms and fruits almost one month earlier than my neighbor’s dwarf peach which sits outside. I used to start garden plants in the winter inside under fluorescent grow lights. Now I start my garden in the greenhouse around January.

Pat from Kerbob
December 6, 2021 4:41 pm

Amazing what people will come to believe. I have a garden here in calgary but i understand its a hobby that allows me to grow some things to eat in the fall, to try new and different things just to see how it goes and how it tastes, true first world problem.

My latest fave is french red fingerling potatoes, they can beautifully. but i cannot feed myself or my family from my garden year round and to be successful requires inputs.

I feel sorry for her, falling for the latest millenial end of the world fad

Last edited 1 month ago by Pat from Kerbob
Geoff Sherrington
December 6, 2021 8:27 pm

Here is some reality for the kelp crowd who seem to prefer trendy pop science to the real thing and are in the rubber boot brigade with the snowflake organic gardeners.
Actuality: Most primary fertilizers rely first on the % of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, shorthand NPK. Kelp contains little.
“The highest reported Kelp product NPK was Kelp powder. The Colorado State Extensions website reports the NPK at 1 – 0 – 4. [5] A variety of sources state the NPK of the other product as negligible. Often kelp products are mixed with fish products to give them an NPK.”
Kelp is too low on the scale to register anything useful.
Actuality: So, people claim exotic contents like a host of minor and trace elements. No cigar, sorry, all plants have these otherwise they would not exist. More exotics like Abscisic acid are quoted as a bonus for seaweed as a fertilizer or growth agents, but all higher plants contain this chemical and many others like the gibberellins that can add to growth rates and yields when synthesized or extracted from other sources and applied as a supplement.
If you really search the literature, there is next to nothing in kelp or seaweed that materially assists the growth of common modern food crops. Rumours abound, hard tests are hard to find.
p.s I spent my first postgrad decade working on plant nutrition and little else, starting at CSIRO, so I am not without understanding. Geoff S

gringojay
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 7, 2021 12:19 am

(2021) “Potential use of Ascophyllum nodosum as a biostimulant for improving the growth performance of Vigna acontifolia…” (free full text available on-line) used an extract of 25% seaweed at zero and different concentrations on India’s popularly edible “moth bean” (you can buy the small moth bean at international India food markets). Among the experimental data WUWT lay science readers can easily grasp at least Figure 3 graphs of root length, number of leaves and leaf area after 30 days treatment with no and various amounts of seaweed (extract).

Authors do point out prior research indicating that crude seaweed is less effective than seaweed extracts for plant growth. And this cited report also shows there is not a clear lineal benefit to all plant parameters always when more % of seaweed extract is used. [The different contextual results at different extract usage levels is tied, in part, to how ratios of different plant phyto-hormones affect different plant parts. Not the subject of this comment.]

Section 2.4 discusses root nodulation (desirable in growing beans) summarizing seaweed extract induced clusters with large nodules and the control (no seaweed) had single nodules that were smaller. See Fig. 4 photo “II” of a month old root segment forming clusters of nodules at one example of seaweed extract concentration.

Last edited 1 month ago by gringojay
Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  gringojay
December 7, 2021 2:24 pm

gringo,
yes, I’ve read the Indian lit, not impressed. Reads like justification for what they are doing.
The question is really, why seaweed? You cannot doubt it has attracted a cult following, plus some fairly large companies with big advertising budgets. Here in Australia we have Seasol, with copious ads along the lines of “Everybody knows how Seasol benefits your plants” or similar words.
Well, everybody does know this. I wrote an article 15 years ago regarding some of the inconsistencies and doubtful assumptions about kelp. It still has most major criticism unanswered. Just because it is trendy. Just because old=style farmers by the sea used to drag it onto fields, maybe because they were desperate to do something to make more food. Not much science then. Geoff S

gringojay
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 8, 2021 10:32 am

Let me get this straight in my mind: two botanists, a plant breeding geneticist,
a biochemist, a seed science technologist, a biotechnology biologist, a microbiology botanist and a French institute physicist recently collaborate then publish data from their controlled experiments performed using a form of seaweed without altering N-P-K have their complete report available for free public reading. While someone who “wrote an article 15 years ago” proposes to the general WUWT audience that they question “why seaweed.”

Each case, no matter what the subject context, presents the same issue for certain WUWT commentators: proving they are the smartest in the forum.

gringojay
Reply to  gringojay
December 8, 2021 12:28 pm

For anyone still following this post I’ll add an explanation of how the cited data chart of leaf area specifically indicates the relevance of seaweed cytokinin phyto-hormone content. Figure 3 shows that on average (and range bars) of 0.1 seaweed extract gives notably greater leaf area than 0.0 seaweed extract (or the other doses); applied to roots was better than leaf dosing.

As the % ratio of cytokinin phyto-hormone increases the zones of dividing cells are influenced and expansion increases. This expansion dynamic is for rapidly growing leaves and not old leaves.

Charted leaf area data is for 30 day old leaves. The best leaf assimilation rate of minerals, water and carbon occurs in 22-24 day old leaves.

About 70% of leaf cell division occurs after the leaf lamina open and that leaf’s expansion is only 4%, or less, at that point; cytokinin phyto-hormone is required for cells cycle progression to mitosis. The point is that the number of cells in a leaf is what influences how big the leaf can get (consider that bonsai plant leaves have normal size leaf cells, their leaves are small because the number of cells in a leaf is low).

Leaf area is relevant to plants because it is what comprises their canopy for light irradiance exposure. Early closing of the leaf canopy shades the ground limiting nutrient competitive weeds’ access to light, as well as providing better soil surface conditions relative to soil moisture content retention.

Geoff Sherrington
December 6, 2021 8:35 pm

Now, a comment o9n underground rivers.
Fairy tales are replete with stories and myths and illustrations of whole communities living underground by the sides of placed streams, as it it was a real countryside except that rock replaces the sky overhead.
What people poetically call “underground rivers” are no more than occasional locations, usually in limestone country, where groundwaters have produced caves that do not reach the surface. When Nature has linked some groundwater flow into and out of these caves, people can call the underground rivers except that has not much purpose. They happen, they are rare, seldom more than a few hundred meters long, seldom with significant flow or additional flood threat. There might be a few that are bigger than average and do take part in flooding, but once this is known, the option exists to relocate, problem solved.
People who have not studied Geology (I have) seldom have a correct concept of what lies, hidden from sight, below the surface of land everywhere and anywhere. It needs drilling and mining to get the main picture.
So, you romantics, please stop telling fairy stories about flood threats from underground rivers. Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 7, 2021 5:38 am

So, you romantics, please stop telling fairy stories about flood threats from underground rivers.

Geoff,

The author used to live in Brighton, a coastal town on the edge of the chalk hills of the South Downs. The existence of dry chalk valleys with underground streams that come to the surface in winter is prevalent in the chalk areas of southern England, as the name of the River Winterborne in Dorset shows.
A friend who lives in Wiltshire experienced significant rising water table groundwater flooding of the basement in his village home alongside a chalk stream during 2012. While the author’s use of the term “underground river” can be disputed, the historic reality of Winterbornes and the damage they can cause to property cannot be gainsaid.

JCalvertN(UK)
December 7, 2021 2:00 am

Does she realise that when she moved from Brighton to her remote Welsh hilltop, she moved out of a substantial Urban Heat Island?

Last edited 1 month ago by JCalvertN(UK)
Michael
December 7, 2021 10:32 am

One of the things these “self-sufficient” folks seem to forget is that the crops grown in England through the years were never the abundance that we can buy in any supermarket. When I lived in BC Canada, the crops we could grow were potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, cabbage, etc. No tomatoes, peppers, or egg plant. I applaud here zeal but wonder at her practicality. A person who lives in Wales is not going to have the same diet without the supermarket.

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