My very own floating garden

Posted on September 26, 2012

The last few weeks have really brought home to me the vulnerability of subsistence farmers across the world to unpredictable weather.

I have had an allotment for thirty years and it is a very useful supplement to family food supplies with plenty of fresh fruit and veg in season. But of course I don’t rely on it to eat every day, nor is it a vital source of income. Nonetheless in a good year I reckon it provides 30% of the family vegetables and 10-15% of fruit.

Martin Stott floating gardenNot this year. Months of torrential rain have wrought absolute havoc. It is mid July and I have lost about 80% of my expected crops this year. The allotment is completely flooded, so that crops have either rotted in the water before being ready to harvest, or they have failed to germinate because the ground has been so water logged, and those that have germinated have been eaten by snails and slugs. Even the few plants like tomatoes that were planted out before the weather turned so bad and the ground became water logged, have failed to grow and are now so far behind that even if they do flower and set, any fruit will never get to any size, let alone ripen.

It is very disheartening and very off-putting for all those people in the UK who have recently taken to a bit of ‘growing their own’ in the current economic circumstances. Hours of physical effort, the costs of seeds and tools – and almost nothing to show for it.

Back in 2007 the Stern Report warned of the future costs of climate change. But it looks like its happening now. News reports of freak storms and forest fires in the USA, repeated floods in the UK, unseasonable fatal avalanches in the Alps, and yet the impact on subsistence farmers in other parts of the world has barely been reported, let alone counted.

Meanwhile as I salvage as many (small) potatoes as I can, I give thanks that its not my only food supply.

(Originally posted at