Monday, 9 January 2012

Gardening - Not Always Easy

If we were relying on our garden to eat, we wouldn't be alive!  Remember this post.  I was so full of enthusiasm!

Now that we have had our first true heat wave I am realising I wasn't prepared.  Maybe all the rain last year lulled me into a false sense of security!

Will this provide us with a dinner in a couple of weeks?!
This certainly won't!

I have lost plants, others are doing terribly and we have battled with water, heat and insects!  "But you were so organised with water!", I hear you say.  "What happened?" 

Well........  The goat ate the pump!  So we connected the old one which doesn't turn off (so we need to walk to the pump and back to the yard before and after using a tap).  Very frustrating!  We couldn't get gravity feeding happening for this year, so maybe next?

Not looking good!

The flowers on my beans were beautiful!

But not one of them set.
I think there are a few problems that have caused my gardening disaster.
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of consistent water
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of shade
We live on the top of a hill.  It is harsh up here!  We are well exposed to the hot sun in the west so the garden doesn't get a break all day.  I have to get away from the mindset of having vegie gardens in full sun.  Great in winter, a killer in summer! 

I read a post this morning by Linda Woodrow, a very experienced woman in the garden!  Linda was discussing shade and the very issues I am having regarding the sun at different times of year.  She posts often about what she is doing in her garden and I vow to take more notice of what she is doing this year, and to copy her!  She is a permaculturalist and I am very interested in her knowledge in many areas.

There are still some upsides in my garden though........

Bandicooted potatoes for our roast

Yummy zucchini which I served buttered with garlic
A lovely sunflower

What amazing detail they have!
I have planted a shade tree to the west of the vegie patch, and now I realise it is the single most important plant in the garden at the moment.  Next summer, if I plan to garden seriously, I will need to put up a fence of shade cloth.

In the meantime, I love hubbie's temporary solution of getting enough water onto the garden in the limited time I have.

He set up the fire hose!  It works a treat!!!


Linda Woodrow said...

I am very lucky this year - it's been a La Nina year and La Nina years here are cooler and wetter. But sometimes I just have to abandon my garden for January - we would run right out of water trying to keep up with new seedlings planted out. I've learned that surviving what I call the frizzle weather needs climbers for shade, lots and lots of mulch (I aim for 30 cm at the beginning of summer), seedlings raised in a shadehouse and only planted out as advanced seedlings, lots and lots of organic matter in the soil, plants trained by infrequent deep watering to send roots down deep, and watering only in the early morning and late evening. It's a few year project to get a garden set up to survive, but it's worth it.

Busy mum of 3 said...

We are lucky here on the North Coast at the moment, we have had good rain and it hasn't really been the hottest summer. I sympathise with you, but it's a blessing we have an alternative in the form of supermarkets, can you imagine what the early Australian pioneers had to contend with, and they often didn't have access to fresh supplies to keep them going.

purplepear said...

We struggle at this time of year as well. As Linda says it's all about shade. We have had to abandon plantings in Jan. due to lack of water, this year has been a little different, but it only takes a couple of days without rain for things to dry out and plants to become distressed and make them prone to disease. It can be difficult but if it all falls into place it can be very rewarding.

Evi said...

Even here in Tas we have dry summers. Of course not as hot as up your way but we get a lot of wind here at our place and that is very drying to both the soil and the leaves.
Also the soil here seems to be very porous and drains easily - great in winter but not good in summer! I have yet to work out how to overcome it all and while the garden looks good right now, it's only because I am watering most days - the joys of having town water for the first time ever!!
I'm sure your garden will be more prolific in winter when all mine has is a few very sedentary cabbages and Brussels sprouts!

Stitchin' time said...

I live on a hot windy hill and even though mulch is my friend I need to shade my plants in summer. Efforts at planting deciduous trees so there will be shade in summer and sun in winter fell apart when the drought struck and I haven't had the heart to have another try yet especially with this weird weather we're having.
Try strawberries and small tomatoes in hanging strawberry pots but make sure you keep the water up to them and watch out for birds if they aren't planted near a human traffic area. Oh and partial sun for these too :)
Good luck.

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

We had a scorching 39 today that may have just finished off a few strugling plants in the garden.

Linda said...

Linda, thank you for your advice. I am determined to do it better next summer.

Busy Mum, without trying to sound very doomsday, it's whether the supermarkets will be around forever that worries me. With our fossil fuel issues, I can't see how life can continue in the same way we have been living it. I would like to be able to survive without them. But certainly at this point, I would be in HUGE trouble without supermarkets!

Thanks Kate, yes I need to focus on the successes I am having. Our potatoes are looking really good this year. I am looking forward to harvesting them!

Evi, we are in a windy spot too and I find the wind is much worse than lack of rain! Our soil used to be very porous too, but after a few year of adding organic matter, it is much better. I'm going to follow Linda's advice and use a VERY thick mulch next summer.

Robyn, your situation sounds much like mine, and yes the drought threw us out for getting shade trees established as well, but I'm still trying because I think most of the answer lies in changing our little microclimate!

Fiona, I hope your plants survive it, but I can just imagine how it looks right now. Depressing sometimes, isn't it?

farmer_liz said...

I've been thinking about shade over the past few weeks too. By absolute fluke last year I planted Poor Mans Beans along my garden fence and they grow like crazy and block most of the sun, but also die right back in winter. I can definitely recommend them as a quick growing shade solution. I'm also very lucky that my husband built a massive shade cloth structure over the garden when we started it. We got a second hand 15x4 m piece from a building recycling place and it covers the entire garden. I roll up the sides in winter, and sometimes I think it can get too shady for winter, but it certainly keeps us going over summer, its the nicest, coolest place in the yard as well! I am learning which seedlings will survive though, and lettuce isn't one of them. I'm also a big fan of mulch! It so difficult to plan a garden when you have the extremes of temperature to contend with. I can also recommend grey water (bath and laundry) for watering the garden, especially if you need to set up a new system anyway, just don't tell your council what you're doing!