500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Caught by a late frost

June1

Though most of Czech is in the warmer zone 6, we are slightly higher up so dip into zone 5. A smear of blue across Austria, Switzerland and here.

Zone 5 cities around the world:
Chicago, Omaha, Portland, Denver, Detroit & Minneapolis in the US.
Bratislava, Slovakia, Yumen and Shenyang in China. Helsinki:Finland; Kiev: Ukraine; Murmansk:Russia; Riga:Latvia; Tallinn:Estonia; Umea:Sweden & Vilnius:Lithuania – our zone sisters are some fine places around the world.

Zones give you an idea of averages – approximately when the last and first hard frosts of the year will be, and an idea of the types of species which will work well. With climate change this information isn’t going to be quite so accurate as our weather patterns move away from the averages. All over the world we’re beginning to see more intense weather lasting for longer as the oscillation of the wave pattern it follows becomes wider and slower. Working to our advantage in that we are now growing grapes – something our neighbours told us would never be possible, however prolonged snow in the winter could lead to the collapse of more of our roofs under the weight of excess snow. Swings and roundabouts you could say.

This year we’ve been hit by a late frost – it was after the apples and cherries set – which means that the flowers had been pollinated and the baby fruit begun to form. We have not a cherry to our name this year – such a shame when usually we have a delicious bounty to share with many people. Also, worryingly, there just don’t seem to be many apples on the trees – not just the trees in the garden, but down the valley, by the lakeside and the road as well.  There are a few apples forming, but it’s going to be a weird autumn. Usually we have literally tonnes of apples. We can pretty much dedicate the month of September to processing  them – bottling juice (heated and then put into beer bottles & clamped keeps it for a year at least), making cider, cider vinegar (often accidentally – but it’s still useful stuff), drying apple slices which we use in muesli, as snacks, to make tea and as a source of pectin for berry based jams.  We make mango chutney from apple, lime pickle from apple and of course the compote – what will we do without seemingly infinite supplies of compote?

On an individual scale we’re obviously going to be fine with a year of apple famine. We have money to buy other types of food. Two hundred years ago this would have been a serious problem, and maybe we would have had to send our young people off to make a new life for themselves elsewhere – America, Australia – if we didn’t have food for them at home. The weather thus far also hasn’t looked good for American farmers this year – with crops of corn and wheat being downgraded because of drought and knock on effects being increased prices and therefore increased hunger & civil unrest in far-flung places in our interconnected world.

No matter what percentage of the population to which you feel you belong, we are in no danger of starvation in the developed world. The price of pork will go down then up, as pigs are slaughtered as grain prices raise – but these foods are the basic staples of life for people, not meat producing animals, in other places. In 2012 there isn’t an unpopulated continent welcoming victims of famine and war from around the world.

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