Thursday, July 20, 2006

Feeling the heat in 'rainy' Wales

Yesterday, the temperature here exceeded those in the Mediterranean where you expect mid-30s Celsius at this time of year. In the polytunnel, the thermometer almost went off-scale as it reached 44 degrees C, a record. Unlike the Mediterranean countries, we still have plenty of water and so can irrigate. In fact, I went out during the stifling hot day at least 5 times to turn on the sprinklers (which I rarely use, preferring the far more economical drip system installed under the soil) for a few minutes at a time, just to keep the temperatures bearable for the plants.

This picture shows one of the rain water collection ponds outside the polytunnel. At present, they're pumped dry since there's been no rain.

Outside, I have to water the veg plots every night, each sector in succession. There hasn't been any serious rain for many weeks and the Met Office is not projecting any in the coming weeks, so far as I can see.

So we're having the hottest and driest summer since (my) records began... 6 years ago. That may mean nothing in climate change terms but it does make you think. And it reminds me once again how much easier it is to grow veg here than it was in Mallorca, where I used to attempt to farm on a small scale for several years. There, we had to rely for all our water on an old well which in times past supplied plenty of water, but all our rich neighbours had put down tubewells to far greater depths than our well's modest 8 metres and depleted the local water table to keep their vast lawns green and swimming pools full. Here in Wales, we have metered mains water which is unlikely to run dry... and, after Mallorca, I always appreciate the rain when it does come!