Like many of you with gardens and farms – I am hanging out for rain and relief from the current late summer weather. It seems amazing that any plants persist with no rain for this amount of time and in the conditions they have been given. Each year plants that don’t survive this type of weather pattern, disappear from our garden and the plants that survive and even look reasonable stay. I am also grateful that we have the ability to store water. This is really important in our garden as we are not connected to town water and don’t have surface dams. It is usually about now that I feel a bit nervous about water use and check the Bureau of Meteorology way too regularly for any sign of rain to refill our tanks. It does mean we don’t have a lush green lawn (it always grows back), we water food plants first, we REALLY value our grey water (this is the patchy green of our lawn!) and new plants must be well established before the summer seasons kick in.
As the intensity of summer disappears the produce from the garden shifts. In our garden this means the much loved Golden peaches, pears and apples start to ripen, tomatoes rush to ripen and fill our freezer and cupboard, the zuchinni looks quite shabby as does the incredibly generous cucumber. I have already harvested a few pumpkins and late beans are shooting for the top of a trellis (good luck).
I have to admit I always get a little excited by now about winter veg. Despite the late heat I have planted the first lot of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, wombok and kales. The warm weather hasn’t held them back at all and we have already had a meal of the Red Russian kale. The key to them looking so good is the shading created by using fruit fly netting. This has also meant the white cabbage butterfly caterpillar hasn’t been able to attack the leaves. I found one and it didn’t stay for long!
I will be planting 3 successions of winter crops with the aim of putting in the last planting before May. All going well I hope to be eating some of the February plantings before then.
I am scaling up this year as our family eat a lot of vegetables. To achieve this scaling up I have been given access to a patch of dirt on my parent -in -laws. This will mean more garlic, carrots, beetroot, parsnips and cauliflowers. The patch is still very hard dirt at the moment waiting some rain and a deep rip. I have spread lime and gypsum and after deep ripping initially the 10X15mt site will become a productive market garden style patch! The most important aspect of this site is access to water. At our home site we don’t have access to dams. Even though this will be winter vegetables which will require little watering they still require it now in the establishment phase.
So I hope you might enjoy following the development of this patch as it goes from a grassy patch to a productive haven.