Record rainfall and resilient vegetable gardens

More than 63 inches of rain has fallen so far this year on the Baltimore/Washington region, breaking a 129 year record. Gardeners are more often in the habit of hoping and praying for rain during hot, dry spells. This year we shook our heads in wonder as buckets of rain repeatedly pelted our gardens.

Climate change has already begun to increase yearly rainfall in Maryland. The NOAA State Climate Report (data through 2014) shows that “annual precipitation has been above average for the last two decades. The annual number of extreme precipitation events (days with more than 2 inches) averaged 2.5 days per year during 2005-2014 compared to 1.8 days per year during 1950-2004.” Scientists expect a 5-10% increase in Maryland’s annual precipitation by 2050.

Saturated Soil
Vegetable crops may recover from a24-48 hr. period in saturated soil
(where water replaces air in pore spaces). Photo credit: Wisconsin Horticulture

Resiliency is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Farmers, gardeners, and researchers are looking for practices and strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us adapt food production to the rapidly changing environment. What makes this so challenging is that in addition to rising average temperature and precipitation we will have more unusual weather and extreme events, including drought! So what can gardeners do to improve garden resiliency in the face of excess rainfall? Continue reading

Climate change? Show me the evidence

If you’re not sure whether climate change is real, you’re not alone. Although recent surveys reveal that 75% of Marylanders think climate change is occurring, many people say they just don’t know enough to be certain about whether it is a problem.

It’s not surprising that people are confused. Climate change isn’t always taught in schools and it wasn’t taught at all when today’s adults were schoolkids. We can’t rely on personal experience for evidence because variability in weather makes it hard to detect climate trends in real time.  Our friends and neighbors might not know any more than we do.  And the recent injection of political opinion into the climate discussion has only added to the confusion by distracting people from reliable scientific evidence.

So, what does the evidence say about some common climate change questions from farmers? 

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