Note for non-Australians - our summer goes from 1st December to 28th (or 29th February).
|It's been a hot summer|
Boy oh boy, what an introduction to our new place. The BOM (that's Bureau of Meteorology) has finalised it's report for summer and declared that it was the hottest on record. It was not only the hottest on record but most places in Australia individually achieved their hottest ever average temperatures. Our hottest day was 41c but we seemed to have weeks and weeks of temps in the mid to high 30s. The locals say that this certainly was hotter than usual but about as dry as a 'normal' ( non-drought) year. This made it a very difficult year to start a new vegetable garden...
Yes, well, it didn't take long for us to have our first introduction to threat from fire. The Mates Gully/ Tarcutta fire that flared up on a hot and windy day was projected to wipe us out totally if the models were correct and if everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. Fortunately things went very much better than projected (for us anyway). We spent a comfortable day at Wagga Wagga Regional Library and spent the night in a Motel while Harriet went to cat prison along with most of the other refugee animals from the Tarcutta fire.
We were rain gauge-less for part of December but I can report that we received a total of 160mm from 24th December to 1st March. The heaviest being a day which dumped 40mm very very quickly and which caused some considerable erosion gullies in our dirt roads and gave the tank a nice top up. We had a whole month with no rain whatsoever followed by 84 mm over a 5 day period. Consequently we have taken longer showers and washed clothes and the country has taken on a lovely green tinge.
|a little too much run-off|
|something approaching soil|
As can be guessed from above, a very Australian 'bugger all'. I have had some lovely small cucumbers, a small number of really tasty blueberries, radishes, some chillies, rocket, plenty of rocket, some tiny tomatoes, a small number of zucchinis, some very tiny eggplants, some spring onions, mint and basil and that's about it (except for peaches which deserve their own section). Now I have something approaching soil, things will get better.
Peaches - the only glut I have had
|the slip stone peach|
- a mystery tip nipper that destroyed my bean crop - possibly earwigs but I wonder if anyone out there knows what a slater will do to new plants - I seem to have a lot of slaters, is that good or bad?
- Wallabies who have also left contributions to garden fertility - these have been gratefully recieved but they are in no way compensation for the produce stolen!
Gleaning and gifts
With little to no produce of my own, gleaning and gifts from others were most welcome.
This season I gleaned:
- small red plums - these were eaten and made into a spicy plum sauce
- small yellow plums - these were eaten and made into a yellow plum puree
- red apples of some sort - these have been eaten and stewed and made into fruit pies and I still have lots left over.
And here is what others have either gleaned or grown and brought over:
- green cooking apples
- lemons, lots of lemons
- honey from bees kept on the next property
- Soil takes time to build - I kind of knew that already, I guess I had hoped that the raised, no-dig beds would be instant beds but in reality, while they don't take long to make, the soil takes take longer to get going. The soil of course still has a long, long way to go but it is already looking pretty good.
- Shade is good - when we had such hot days and such little water, the best way to protect the plants was to stop evapotranspiration with a 70% shade cloth.
- How to be very efficient with watering.
- Chillies are a gardeners best friend, they are the only plants that have survived all and given produce.
- Wallabies eat everything but they especially like rocket, beetroot, radish and peaches green or ripe.
- It is impossible to have too much mulch.
- I have learned something of the plants on the property.
- I have learned that kurrajongs and silver wattle will be great wind and fire breaks and the wattle will fix nitrogen. I have learned that these two lovely natives are relatively easy to raise from seed. I have learned how beautiful Red Box eucalypt leaves are, especially when they are dry.
|Silver wattle babies|
In general I have learned so much about my new patch, the way the wind blows, the way the sun moves and the way the fires come.
- 'dressing' rabbits
- cell grazing
- sheep husbandry
- carbon sequestration
- native pasture
- naturalising dams
- leaky weirs
- agricultural weed control
There is still much to learn.
How was your summer?