Sunday, January 19, 2014

January Garden in Pictures

January 2014 started with a heatwave (40ºC+) peppered with some stunning thunderstorms. We harvested our first dwarf peaches and discovered to our delight that there is a blackberry bush coming up in our yard from our neighbour's property. The rainbow lorikeet birds began to eat the apples from our apple trees so it became very necessary to net the entire two trees.

Adelaide, South Australia

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gardening in the UN's officially hottest city on the Earth

Well, we almost made it. If we had reached 46.1ºC (114.9ºF) on January 16th this year Adelaide (South Australia) would have been a record breaking city on planet Earth. We mercifully only reached 44ºC in the city center but Roseworthy, Freeling and Bethel (little farming communities sandwiched between the Barossa & Clare Valleys) made it over 46ºC. I grew up out there so when the city people and the media start jumping on the bandwagon about breaking records, I have a quiet giggle to myself knowing that us farmers throughout the state have experienced worse far closer 50ºC and we did it often without fancy air conditioning.

All this heat comes at the expense of our gardens and animal welfare. The balancing act is equal to those in the northern hemisphere that have to cope through snow and blizzard conditions. We learn how to cope in the place we are planted and amazingly the garden still exists and bounces back by the time we reach the next season.

Here are some of the ways gardeners throughout Adelaide cope during the hot weather.

Summer Garden Care (Over 32ºC/89ºF)

  • Water slow and deep with drippers or weeper hoses where possible.
  • Water daily but only once a day. (Morning is best. Evening can cause fungal problems.)
  • Only water at the base, never over the foliage to prevent sunburnt leaves.
  • Do not cut off any sunburnt leaves to protect the rest of the plant.
  • Leave the lawn mowing until cooler days come.
  • Hold off from feeding plants during the heat.
  • Ignore the lawn watering where ever possible. Prioritise which plants need watering.
  • Small little new shoots can be removed from trees but do not cut back any significant foliage.
  • Bring inside any potted plants especially large soft leaf plants such as Hydrangeas.
  • Tomatoes will not ripen properly during a heat wave. They will ripen when the temps return to the mid 20s again.
  • Do not write off plants that look badly sunburnt, they are very likely to bounce back to life if cared for with regular deep watering.
  • Use appropriate shade cloth for plants only. Ask your local hardware store for the right % shade cloth for your garden. Do not use decking/veranda shade cloth over plants.
  • Bring your worm farm indoors during a heatwave. (Beware of ants invading)
  • Test your tank water temperature. Do not give your plants or pets warm water.
  • Keep buckets of water in the laundry/bathroom to cool down if hot tanks are a problem.
  • Let the bath water cool down and then bucket out onto the lawn in the evening.

With the highest water rates and electricity rates in the world, Australian gardeners have to be truly resource savvy.

If you can add to this list, we would love to hear your summer gardening tips.