It's been awfully hot in the garden lately -- and dry. Those are rotten conditions for sugar snap peas, and mine have responded with stunted, thin pods which are still sweet, but not nearly what they could've been. I've been thinking that if our climate is indeed heating up -- and it certainly looks that way-- my gardening goals and habits will have to change. It may no longer be practical to expect crisp, super-sweet sugar snap peas.

And, come to think of it, my spinach was miserable this year, too. Of course, I'm used to ups and downs in the garden. Some years are great for strawberries and asparagus across the board, and others, well, when I compare notes with my gardener friends, they all just shake their heads and say maybe next year will be better.

But if global climate change is here to stay, maybe next year won't be any better. Maybe my early season garden full of cool-weather crops like lettuce, beets, and carrots will be just a memory in another decade, and I will have to focus on fruits and veggies that love the heat. I have to admit that my heat- loving basil and tomatoes are looking better than I've ever seen them. I've even heard people say that global warming is a good thing. But I am not willing to go so far as to agree with them.

What I am going to do is choose cool-weather crop varieties which reach maturity more quickly and plant more heat-tolerant veggies for when things really heat up. I'll also be more generous with the mulch since that helps to keep roots cool and moist.

Finally, I guess I'll have to learn to be even more judicious with water in the coming years. We all will. In my case that means putting out rain barrels and, perhaps, running PVC pipe from the gutters on my house to other water collection containers, or, as one woman I know does, I could divert the water from my roof straight to the garden.

Story by Susan Brackney. This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007