November 2019 – after the rain came the long dry

Since last writing in 2016 (oh dear) a lot has changed in our landscape. Like most of eastern Australia we have experienced continued dry conditions with summers that have tested everything and everyone.  Compared to many we are lucky in our little part of the world. Around Albury in southern NSW it is definitely dry, but not as desperate as other areas – yet. Many crops have been made into hay or silage. Some farmers are hopeful that some  wheat and oat crops will yield a bit of grain. Water storage levels in dams and tanks vary considerably depending on whether you ended up under a rain cloud. We only have water we catch from our roof. We did buy water for the first time – 30,000 litres. It felt a little like defeat but was also a relief. Our 120,000 litre tank is still a long way from full and we will still be very careful with every drop. It just buys a little more time.

In our garden the extended dry and extreme heat events of the last few summers has resulted in us making many changes to the way we garden. I have  presented a couple of talks on the theme of Gardening in our changing climate as we have to consider how we need to adapt. Gardens, however,  in urban areas, on farms and in peri-urban areas can be vital biodiversity refuges for our local wild life plus providing a host of other positive benefits. At times it can feel very overwhelming but it is in times of constraint that we can often be the most creative. This is an opportunity to really look at how we have been living, how and where we work, what we grow and nurture in our garden and question what changes we need to make so that we can continue to live here.

If this is a journey that sounds familiar to you I would be so curious to learn about your thoughts. If this is sparking some questions and helping you take stock, make a cuppa and see if anything that we are doing might be of help.

Over time I would like to share the changes we have made and how they are holding up.

To come back to the theme of seasonality and the month of November, I am anticipating  the ripening of Mulberry’s. This is a tree that has stood up to the summers, still managed to give us some fruit (and the many foraging birds – some a little less desired) and provided amazing shade during the heat.

I have also enjoyed salad leaves, greens and peas in a vegetable garden that we have scaled back significantly and to only the wicking beds. Summer vege has started to gain strength with the gradually warming weather (or the bursts of heat and snaps of cold which is our spring). I have focused on growing plants we eat a lot of and don’t necessarily get in our veg box from our local market gardener (beans and saucing toms, more salad greens, cuc’s,  zuch’s which we do get in the veg box but we eat A LOT of salad).

To increase water catchment my husband built a shed for all our bikes –  on top of the rain water tank. It looks lovely and has had one rainfall event so far. This is one of the steps we have taken to increase catchment in our tank. There are other actions we have done around the garden that I will elaborate on later.

A multipurpose shed to store bikes, play table tennis in and to catch more water - when it falls.

A multipurpose shed to store bikes, play table tennis in and to catch more water – when it falls.

delivery of water (2 tanks worth) and mulch (15 cubic mts to be distributed around the garden.

Delivery of water (2 tanks worth) and mulch (15 cubic mts to be distributed around the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So a beautiful shed and delivery of water, plus a load of mulch were how we started our spring. I look forward to sharing more soon.