Friday, 4 January 2013

What to save, what to sacrifice

This evening I had a few tears. This morning we discovered that a fox - we guess it was a fox - had dug up two of the buried carp and the place stank.  Then I got stinky dealing with the problem. This was done on a day that reached  38c with a dry north wind - it was still 38c at 5pm.

We spent the day inside with shutters down trying to stay cool -  it was impossible. To add to the sense that the world is wonky, I have been suffering  a lot of lower back pain and an exasperating rash caused by a new additive to a formerly reliable sun blockout. This and the heat and  I have had hardly any sleep for days and  I look and feel a mess.

At around 4pm I contemplated dinner and thought to pick a bounty of rocket and radish  to have in a salad with shaved Parmesan - a lump of which was in the fridge as a Christmas gift. But the rocket and the radish sat flat on the ground as limp and exhausted as we were. I decided to do some strategic watering once the sun was off the plants to see what revived and also decided on what to save and what to sacrifice plant wise. You see it has been in the 30s since Boxing Day and we have all had enough - plants and humans (and  Harriet cat). Things had been holding up quite well until today - today was breaking point, the north wind the tipping factor.

Tomorrow is said to be 41 and it will be in the 40s or high 30s each day for  the foreseeable forecast.  It is unusual I am told but this being our first year here we don't know.  I guess it is possible it is unusual - the whole country seems to be excessively hot with even Hobart breaking all records today by going into the 40s. Hang in their Tasmania.

I decided to examine what was coping best and what looked like was past it. I decided to redistribute the mulch accordingly and re-allocate to those plants most likely to survive and offer produce. I pulled out a row of radish, mostly to eat but many to discard because they had got far too hot,

and picked as much rocket as we could eat and made the salad.

I piled up the mulch under the small number of  beans of various sorts that hadn't been tip nipped and  that were still erect after a week of heat. Suffice to say that the beans are largely buggered as Australians like to say and I had put so many beans in as a way of building soil fertility! I could show you pictures of those that were fading and got sacrificed  but I decided I didn't want to do that, it had already induced tears and once was enough.  Instead I have decided to show you what has survived  the heatwave - so far at least - there is another week to go. The chillies are doing fine,

and my one padron plant has fruit.

The eggplant are indestructible as ever despite their wind whipping on the back of the ute to get here.

Surprisingly, the whole menu of cucurbits are having a great time. My baby cucumber plants - Space Master -  are also resilient,

as are the Tigger melon and

 the Baby Blue pumpkin.

I think the Musquee du Provence pumpkin despite its massive leaves will be ok.

 Many of my tomatoes are suffering too much to produce, but the heat has sped up the ripening of my Green Zebra tomatoes which we may eat tomorrow night.

And as a distraction from all that has gone wrong, a frog has decided to join us on the verandah for the evening and amuse us with its antics.

Tomorrow, early, possibly as early as 5.30am we are going to do more mowing for mulch and  fire protection.

I guess I will have to learn how to garden here and what is tough enough to take the hot years. I will get there I guess, it just seems a struggle right now, I guess more sleep will help.

What is surviving the heat in your patch? How are you helping things survive? What is suffering?

Hang in their other gardening Aussies -  stay cool and away from the fires and may your beans grow and prosper and have abundant nitrogen-fixing root nodules.


  1. Ewww, just what you need on a 38 degree day - stinky fish smells. Not. Sad to hear the beans were a casualty, mine are looking pretty sad and dry too despite lots of mulch and as much deep watering as I can mangage. But looks like a fair bit is hanging in there. I hope the fires stay far far away.

    1. It was pretty stinky! I think I can say I will be lucky to have any bean plants survive the next week. Glad you can save some of yours.

  2. We got to 43 here in aldinga needless to say we were all wilting luckily the beach is close by. Looks like another 10 more days of heat. Stay cool.

    1. Aldinga is SA isn't it? The beach isdown a steep cliff? I think I went there many hundreds of years ago - nice spot for a hot day!

  3. I understand your pain, Louise! It is so disheartening when things seem to conspire to make our lives miserable. There would have been tears from me, too.

    Beans must not be very resilient. We had a 40+ day yesterday and the beans weren't happy in the least. I covered the lettuce and the cucumber with a few layers of bird netting from the shed but everything else fended for itself and seemed to do alright (having had a good drink very early in the day)- apart from the beans - though they look like they will survive.

    I'm sure you know this sort of thing so pardon me for stating the obvious but please be careful using a mower on such hot days. I believe we aren't meant to use them at all on total fire ban days and there are a few of those in our future!!

    And I love your frog! He knows a safe haven when he sees one. :)

    1. You are very right on the mowing - generally not recommended. That day we didn't have a total fire ban and we were only on Very High fire danger (as opposed to Severe and above). I called the local RFS to discuss mowing and he said it was ok - especially if I was mowing very early - which we were, but you are right to think on this. I think we might get to Severe and above tomorrow with 42 and strong winds so its off to the local library I think!

      The frogs come out of the little water storage tank each night to feed on the insects that gather under the light. It's better than television!

  4. Hot days on end really aren't much fun are they? Glad that you have a good few plants coping ok. I guess this is the point I appreciate Melbourne's seabreezes. Whilst it gets hot here (around 43 on Monday) it doesn't tend to stay that hot for days on end so the plants generally have a chance to recover. The heat did singe a few of my tomato plants, killed an old chilli (long cayenne) and burn a few of the lettuces but otherwise nothing too dramatic. Hope things are looking better for you and your plants today!

    1. Blimey, its hot and for so long! You are right I can remember some really hot days in Melbourne when I lived there, but being close to the coast it doesn't stay too bad for too long. We looked up the long term averages for the max temps for here over January and they are 30c - so what we have had for days has been well above the average. Bummer that you lost your Long Cayenne!

  5. You know it is remarkable that you only moved in a couple of months back and have managed to actually be eating your produce all ready. I guess it is not the time to mention that in Sydney we have had quite good weather. Got to 31 today but 43 tomorrow then it cools down again. I am going to start early and we have cancelled the last client already.

    Glad you mentioned the beans I was beginning to think I just had a rat eating them as they aren't growing so well. They are getting a massive water from the sprinkler as I write



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