Climate change affecting vegetable crops in Canberra region for backyard gardeners, farmers alike

Sunday 14 April 2019

"The warmer temperatures have people continuing to plant well into autumn and winter, because the soil temperatures are warm enough to sustain the crops," Dr Crimp said. "But while the temperatures are conducive to planting, the rainfall is not."

Autumn is upon us, which means it is time to plant your sweet peas, broad beans and lettuce so they can establish well before the frosts. Or is it?

Across Australia backyard gardeners use time-tested planting schedules to ensure a good yield, but no place is more inextricably linked to the seasons than Canberra.

Newcomers to the city will be quickly told that Anzac Day signals the time to turn on the heater and not to even bother planting tomatoes until after Melbourne Cup.

But as the capital last month recorded the hottest March ever, the unseasonably warm days have also had an effect on how and when to plant.

A rock hangs from a pole, with a sign saying that if the rock is missing, there has been a cyclone.PHOTO: This weather rock is tongue in cheek, but emblematic of the current erratic weather. (ABC News: Kate Midena)


"Climate change has most definitely affected the timing of those established rules of when you plant and when you don't plant," Dr Steven Crimp, a climate applications scientist from the Australian National University said.

"Some of the old rules we've relied on for growing crops need to be revisited."

Among many changes Dr Crimp noted, an increase in frosts in September and October, a lack of steady rainfall, and warmer minimum and maximum temperatures had contributed to battered copies of the Canberra Gardener rule book being thrown off shelves.

Read the full ABC article by Kate Midena including more commentary by Dr Steven Crimp of ANU Climate Change Institute.  

Updated:  19 July 2019/Responsible Officer:  Director/Page Contact:  Web Admin