Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Beating the heat?

Day three of a week-long  heat wave and the pumpkins seem to be holding up relatively well.

I have two varieties in  -  Butternut and Jap.

You might notice the bundle of shade cloth lying beside the pumpkin bed? That's why the pumpkins are surviving I think. Uncovered and I'm sure they'd fry! I have photographed the pumpkins in the early morning thus the shadow of the photographer (apologies!).

I am leaving the pumpkins uncovered until midday to allow any pollination to happen and then I cover them with a 90% shade cloth until about 8pm when they get uncovered again. That's the approach I'm taking anyway, let's see if this method works for the rest of the week. Temps are supposed to stay in the high 30s and low 40s until Saturday!

These two plants have started to develop little pumpkins.

Let's hope the shade cloths will enable these little fellas to continue their development.

Other pumpkin vines  that were reasonably advanced during the last period of belting heat did not get the shade cloth treatment.

Sad specimens aren't they? They are still alive but have never recovered and are certainly not thriving enough to produce. The only reason I am leaving them in the ground is that at least they are providing some shade to the roots of a nearby apple tree.

The longer I garden the more I think that the oft said  tip about vegetable gardening - the one that says 'plant your vegetable garden in full sun'  - is just clearly wrong for an Australian summer. I find that  most of the plants in the vegetable garden do so much better in considerable shade, especially when I can't freely water due to relying on tank water alone.

 The photo below is of my haricot beans and cucumbers under a 90% shade cloth which remains on them all day. They are doing very well.

Even some of my chilli plants are benefiting with a little shade from an off-cut of a shade cloth.

The only plants that seem to actually thrive in the extreme heat and radiation are the eggplants.

These look to be in the shade but aren't. They are just a little shaded from the morning sun.

How is your garden surviving the heat wave? What things are you doing to protect your plants?

Stay cool SE Australia!


  1. Oh I am so jealous! It is cold and snowy here in NY. I'm pouring over seed catalogs to start planting in about six weeks.

    KK @ www.preppypinkcrocodile.com

  2. I totally agree with you; in the Australian climate "full sun" is much too strong for most plants. I have set up my front and back garden beds to have deciduous fruit trees in them, the plan being when they are fully grown they will lightly shade the below garden beds (I plan to thin the branches well), and in winter will let the sun through for winter crops. But until then I have been using some garden fleece to shade some particularly sensitive plants, and am hoping copious amounts of mulch will prevent too much moisture loss. But my plants are looking pretty crisp, and there is no reprieve for at least a couple of days here so I think there will be casualties.
    I hope your garden pulls through.

  3. We went away for a long weekend so I couldn't water until Tuesday afternoon. I have some very sad looking beans, dead beetroot seedlings, scorched tomatoes and remarkably happy cucumbers but I think is mostly because they are in the shade for most of the afternoon. I think I will end up losing quite a few of the climbing bean plants but hopefully some make it. It has been a challenging season for veggies I'm finding - Spring was too cool and now this heat wave. Perhaps Autumn will be better....

  4. I agree, the old 'plant in full sun' might as well read 'place in moderate oven and cook until golden brown'.

  5. Phew! We are also having heatwaves in South Africa - a whopping 38oC @ varsity (in Pretoria) and 35oC in Roodepoort (@ home) - not fun at all! At least we haven't reached the low 40 yet (and I hope we never do)... plentiful mulching and good watering at night sounds like a good plan in order to get our veggies through this terrible heat! Sadly, I think that the global weather will only get worse, the north getting colder and the south getting hotter!

  6. Yeap in Sydney we have had hot but not quite heatwave temps. My garden is a mess. I am too hot and bothered to be dealing with it all right now so they are lucky to get a water as I run from the van into the house to escape the heat. Your shade cloth seems to be happily saving your garden.

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