Record Breaking

If you haven’t noticed already, this blog is as much a journal for Kurt and I as it is stories of our landscaping and now life adventures. I find myself drawn to writing about many aspects that affect our gardening but also, now, some living-history.

All of the extreme historical events that we have seen in the last 6 months (3 if you are counting) have many affects on us. I could relate it strictly to our gardening, which for the most part, I will do in this post, but it goes so much further than that.

So let’s get caught up. This summer we saw the heat dome, which is brand new to our town and even our country. We saw record breaking temperatures throughout its stay here in BC, and not just breaking records but really smashing them. I hope we do not see temperatures like that again in my lifetime, never mind possibly break them. Unfortunately, it sounds like what was a crazy month will likely become a bit more if a reality for the foreseeable future.

That is going to greatly impact the food we grow and how we grow it in our garden. Many gardeners lost parts or all of their garden in our area. Farmers struggled and the people in our town also had to battle the weather that became dangerous to be in too long. We somehow managed to save our entire garden, though I’m not completely sure how. We drip feed everything with very few sprayers so perhaps we managed because the roots were so well managed. We also had layers of plants, sheltering others and growing together, perhaps resulting in added protection. Though we saved the plants, and had some fantastic harvests, we did see some plants struggle to produce, possibly due to just working on surviving the heat. Our cedar trees also survived, however there may be a few that don’t make it through the winter. They do not do well in the heat we had and most got scorched on the sunny side.

Following the heat dome was a record breaking fire season that saw some communities around us and even within our town suffer. Kurt and I took a beautiful drive for the day in the spring to a few surrounding areas. I’m glad we did as a few of them are no longer standing. One day when those towns are rebuilt we will look at this blog and remember the history that we lived through. Although we were not directly affected by those fires, our beautiful city became a home to many of the people of those communities.

During the summer, which wasn’t really a summer, we were blanketed in smoke so thick it was unsafe to go outside for long periods. Although our plants continued to grow and provide us with food, it was challenging to tend to the garden properly. I believe our effort at companion planting helped us in many ways. It was so nice to have the odd clear-sky day where we could get out to the garden and spend some time with our plants. If you look back over the years of this post you will see the odd post about gardening in Smokey skies and the challenges it posed each time.

There should be a mountain visible in the background.

To top off the summer of fires and heat, we also found ourselves in a severe drought. No rain, no reprieve for the firefighters or forests. Watering restrictions were put in place for most of the summer. Luckily vegetable gardens and food sources are not included though recommendations on when to water are given. We always water at night when it is coolest to avoid as much evaporation as possible and allow the water time to soak the ground and down into the roots. Our drip irrigation system is set on a timer that allows us to be sleeping soundly while our garden soaks up all that water.

As fall neared and temperatures dropped and the smoke cleared we breathed a bit of a sigh of relief. We were looking forward to a quiet fall enjoying the outdoors and patiently anticipating the cross-country ski season since we didn’t get much outdoor exercise in the summer. Fall treated us well and we saw rains that we desperately needed from a summer of fire, heat and drought.

Leading into the winter months we began to see snow capping the hills and thick frosts. We knew it was only days away from having snow in town. And we got it. We didn’t set a record and there were no issues in town thankfully, but it was definitely more than normal snow for mid-November. Not long after, we started hearing the coast being given alerts for significant rainfall. We live about 3 hours from the west coast. During that storm, BC once again set devastating records. Towns saw a months worth of rain in less than 24 hours. Twenty four communities in southern BC saw over 100 mm of rain. A few saw over 200. Mass flooding began and infrastructure damage became catastrophic. Our two main highways from the interior of BC to the coast have so much damage that it will be months before they might open again in some capacity. Landslides, mudslides, rockslides all blocked sections, sometimes hemming in travellers and stranding them on the highways until the military was able to rescue them. We are for the third time in 6 months, now in a state of emergency.

It has unfortunately been more than just loss of land, housing and infrastructure. Some of the hardest hit areas are farming communities with thousands of animals having perished due to how fast the flooding happened. The mudslides on our busy highways also resulted in some tragedy.

This weekend we are expecting another 2 atmospheric rivers, though both will be slightly smaller, to once again pummel these stricken areas. The floodwaters have not receded, and damage from the first damaging storm has not been fully assessed as we move into this next wave of storms. The coast is still mostly cutoff from the rest of the province with only one route open to emergency or essential traffic. It may be a while before we see the leisure travel resume.

As we start thinking about planning our garden for next summer I think back to the last 6 months. I hope that it was a unique year with the three unprecedented weather storms that we saw, but I am doubtful. We may start planning for plants that can withstand more heat, or that require less watering during the summer months. Plants that thrive and produce lots of vegetables in the new weather patterns we are seeing. We will continue to companion plant and may design additional landscaping features that will help the plants be somewhat self sufficient when we are unable to spend as much time as we should tending the garden.

We are lucky that we have so many delicious vegetables from our garden frozen or preserved for winter use. We are already seeing food supply issues in some areas as the coast was our main source for incoming transport. Plus, people panic. Who knew that toilet paper would become so scarce again? Hahaha. That being said, we do have a lot of options to the east of us and expect most of those food shortage and supply chain gaps to be filled from Alberta and other areas surrounding us. Although everything will sort itself out, any major issues with the transport of goods is not good and we lost our two major routes from the coast which sees many goods shipped and routed through that area.

Hopefully this is the last of it for a while and we can all breathe easy, regroup, help those affected by all three weather catastrophes and dream of a better year starting in January.


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