Republic of Moreland

May 25, 2007

How Exxon-Mobil and the Howard government meddled with my backyard

Filed under: Backyard experiment,gardening,gardens,politics,urban farming — Kath @ 10:40 am

Somehow I doubt the Howard government’s $23 million advertising blitz to try and persuade Australians that the government is tackling global warming is going to wash with my apple tree. Without losing its leaves, it has started blossoming. That’s right: my apple tree thinks it’s spring.

Pictured above is a branch from my plum tree, against this morning’s newspaper. That’s right: it’s started blossoming, too! Despite the carbon lobbyists’ campaigns, it too thinks it’s spring. It’ll get a rude shock when winter finally does arrive, and all that energy will be wasted. I wonder if it will fruit at all. I wonder when I can take cuttings to graft, since the plants’ hormones are so out of whack.

Just as I was gearing up to the miserable end of my summer vegie patch, just as I contemplated building a hothouse, I get a whole new bumper crop of tomatoes. In autumn. It’s almost mid-year, almost winter, and I’m still picking summer produce. I’ve still got lettuces, broccholi and beans in force.

I should be overjoyed, of course. With climate change, as The Age reported this morning, autumn is the new spring. With record temperature rises:

Normally flowering in the hottest months of summer, they are blooming with profusion right now.

Experts say temperature changes are reducing the difference between seasons, sending many plant varieties into a spin.

Melbourne is heading for a record warm May as the average maximum temperature hovers at 20 degrees, significantly higher than the historic monthly average of 16.7 degrees.

We can expect to enjoy longer vegie seasons with global warming. But we can expect the downside, too: extreme weather and very confused plants. The warmer weather is also bringing unseasonal fungi and insects into our backyards. Just last week I cut a budding citrus-wasp nest out of my lime tree. They’re suppossed to happen around September.

My nectarine tree hasn’t even started losing its leaves. My nashi tree, peach tree and grape vines haven’t lost theirs.

I’m really interested in how these weather patterns are affecting back yards, so I’d be grateful if anyone visiting would record their experiences in the comments.


  1. How is climate change affecting my back yard? Hmmm, where do I begin….
    -chooks now on their third moult and hence STILL no eggs
    -my basil has taken off again, with a May harvest!
    -apple tree sprouting new blossom
    -new crop of passionfruit starting (don’t know if they’ll ever ripen)
    -when do I do all my autumn pruning.?
    -leaves on all the trees still, and new buds on some
    -in Donald St there is JASMINE in flower!

    What I will miss is that first few weeks of putting on all your winter woolies and thinking now it’s REALLY winter. And mulled wine? Will it ever be cold enough to drink mulled wine again?

    Comment by faith — May 25, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  2. Oh, yes Faith: my passionfruit has started flowering too!
    AND some corriander has come up in the last week! (I planted seeds several months ago, without success.)

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — May 25, 2007 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  3. Some of the gardens profiled in Vasili’s Garden on SBS the other night had very late tomato and capsicum crops. Now, was Vasili’s Garden very new Coburg or a new take on old Coburg?

    Comment by faith — May 25, 2007 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  4. Hi, I’m in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains which is often described as Bleakheath. You can check out my blog to see photos of the wattle that’s in full bloom slightly down the mountains, jonquils …; I’m still harvesting tomatoes (in the past most people had trouble ever getting tomatoes to ripen and I’ve harvested over 20kilos with more coming), eggplants, strawberries, potatoes, lots of broccoli ….. my nasturtiums are in FULL BLOOM … AT THE END OF MAY!

    thanks for your site …it’s great …. glad I found it

    Comment by Lis — May 25, 2007 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  5. And as for the dog… still moulting instead of getting back into her winter coat.

    Comment by david tiley — May 25, 2007 @ 11:48 pm | Reply

  6. I checked the fig tree today… apart from a few yellow leaves (lack of water I think) there’s nothing. No figs. Autumn! Figs! What has gone wrong?

    Comment by jac — May 26, 2007 @ 12:39 am | Reply

  7. Yup. Apricot and almond trees still haven’t lost their leaves, although the apricot is starting. Coriander is still growing.

    I didn’t get ANY tomatoes this year – well, one lousy tomato from 6 plants, and other people reported the same. Composted, watered, cut off laterals, tied them up, tied them down – but I think a week and a half over Xmas while we were away might have mucked them up, as they got very dry and nearly died just as they would have been setting fruit.

    Yes, it’s very spooky and no canny and I don’t like it. In the past I would have thought “gloriously warm weather”, now I think “horribly warm”.

    Is there more gale force wind about, too? I feel like it is, but I’m not sure.

    Comment by Helen — May 28, 2007 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  8. Well it seams my garden is suffering the same confusion as the others. But surly in this “new brunswick” we will be able to find a councillor or therapist to consult our plants on the effects of the modern world. Yes consumers the new brunswick is part of the global debarcle refered to as global warming. It has nothing to do with the rate of consumption, obviously. and the fact that our council makes us feel like we’re doing our bit by seperating our waste, well that makes us all feel good does’nt it. Whos out there saying use less, buy less, put on a jumper instead of jumping for the heater, oh and dont even mention the amount of clothes dryers in morland.
    Yep lets just all blame the pollies and corporates, cos we all know its their fault, isn’t it?

    Comment by Max Franc — May 28, 2007 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  9. Most things in my garden seem to be following the seasonal trend, but just a bit slower. My basil finally gave up last weekend, but not before I could make an awesome pesto from it. the winter vegie seedlings are finding it a bit condusing tho.

    Actually I’m starting to think global warming is caused by hot air coming from John Howard’s mouth…

    Comment by Marty — May 29, 2007 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  10. You make some fair points, Max, but an individual cutting down on appliance usage or putting on extra clothing is but a spit in the bathtub compared to major corporate emissions. And of course, if governments of any level were serious about tackling warming, they’d be instituting mandatory emission reduction targets for those industries.

    Personally, I see no use for clothes dryers, even here in rainy, windswept Melbington… and I furthermore agree that everyone must do their part to reduce our environmental footprint (hear that, rev-head malakas?) But here’s a challenge: you put on a cardigan and I’ll close down a coal-fired power station, and we’ll see who makes winter come first.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — May 29, 2007 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  11. Hear, Hear, Bane.

    Oh, Marty, I’m afraid the wind has played havoc with your garden. We can see it from down the street.

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — May 29, 2007 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  12. yes… global warming BLEW DOWN OUR TREE!!!!!! oh well, looks like it’s time for a planed out nature strip now!

    Comment by Marty — May 30, 2007 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  13. Yeah, note my previous comment, yes WIND. It’s scary.
    What kind of tree was it, Marty? We have lost a lot of melaleucas lately – they just fall over really easily!

    Comment by Helen — May 30, 2007 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  14. Plant two trees where only one stood before, Marty. Suck up that carbon, dude! (Well, at least during daylight hours…)

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — May 30, 2007 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  15. Actually, Bane, a grove of smallish natives WOULD look nice there.

    Helen: I think the tree was something like this:

    (You know, I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of eucalyptus trees using google! Found one site that listed large forest trees, but none which listed street trees…)

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — May 31, 2007 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  16. Helen it was some kind of eucalupt. The council removed what’s left and left a nice note to tell us that they’ll replace the tree and remove the stump some tim in the “next 3-6 months”.

    I hope they mow the grass while they’re at it, our mower died and the grass is up to my neck!

    Comment by Marty — June 1, 2007 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  17. Hey, its now the 2nd of June and bloody freezing. I hope you are happy now.


    Comment by Warren — June 2, 2007 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  18. Yes, that’s that climate change malarkey taken care of, eh Warren?

    Now to sort out this ’round Earth’ business…

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — June 2, 2007 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

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