Sunday, January 17, 2010

Time for a change of strategy

Its been an up and down week and a bit since I last posted. We have had a bit of cooler weather and a good blast of hot. The garden has taken another pounding so bits of it are looking decidedly sad. On the good side the blackberries are doing OK in the shade structure I built for them, we have had a couple of good picks with a lot more to come. These are destined for the trading post as we already have a good supply in the fridge.

The beans I planted outside the shade areas have been dealt to by the hot wind and are not looking too perky but I think they will pick up if we get a bit of cooler weather. Those in the shade house garden are fine. I have given up on the first corn crop and planted another lot with a bit of wind protection, I think we will get them through to maturity before it gets to cold. The first plants did produce a few cobs but definitely not the best corn I have seen. I will pull them out and get the ground ready for a few tomatoes I hope to carry into winter. Last winter we had tomato plants growing well right through the winter. The tomatoes we got off those plants at the end of winter where some of the ugliest looking things you would ever see but they had a taste you wouldn't believe. It was the first time we have had tomatoes survive a winter outside. They stayed happy and healthy right through with very little damage from the unusually light frosts we got. This year I will try them in a polytunnel and see if we can have them fruiting in the winter, we get enough light so if I can keep them warm it could be a winner.

Summer tomatoes have been almost a total failure this year, even the shade house ones have produced only a few small fruit. The hanging pots have kicked the bucket, another total failure. The pumpkins have suffered badly with only a few runners surviving. Today I pruned those back a bit and planted a few seedling pumpkins I had ready to go. I may have to work out some shelter for them to get them through the next month or so until it starts to cool a bit. Surprisingly some NZ yams I planted have made it through everything the summer has thrown at them. They are not a heat loving plant and usually turn their toes up if it gets over 35 degrees. I managed to get hold of a few seed yams last spring (even though they are rationed by most seed suppliers) and planted them in the shade house. As it warmed up I planted a row of dwarf beans on either side of them in the hope that cooling effect of the transpiration from the beans would help them. So far it's working and we may get a crop off them.

The Kumara are powering along under a rough shade cover and should provide us with a feed or two. The summer so far has been pretty tough and it looks like this is going to be the norm for the future. From here on it looks like we will have to start our summer crop at least a month early so they are well established by the time the heat gets at us. The shade cloth structures are going to be a permanent fixture around here, along with some wind breaks to keep the hot northerly winds from giving us the blast furnace treatment. It looks like we have to find new ways of doing stuff if we are to have any hope of an easy life on a Tough New Planet.


The Duck Herder January 18, 2010 at 8:03 PM  

sheesh - its hard gardening in such extreemes - but it is still fun huh! growing tomatos into winter is but a dream here in the ONC (Our Nation's Capital). We start fretting and covering with old curtains around march and then any pickings into April are a crazy wild joy!

Is it the temperature or the hot winds or both that impact the most on your garden?

wishing you gentle winds, cool temperatures, misty rains after a bloody good 2 inch soak and dappled shade!

jonesy January 18, 2010 at 11:21 PM  

Hi duck herder,
I think it's the hot winds coming early. February-March is usually our hottest period but the last few years it's been a lot earlier. Winters have been a lot warmer of late with the rain coming in the summer more than winter/spring which was normal. Summer rain is virtually useless out here it only grows cat-heads or evaporates almost as soon as it falls, although any on the garden helps.

The Duck Herder January 23, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

hmmm. cat heads. it is too cold here for cat heads to survive the winter. 100km to the north or west and they are back on with a vengence though!

stay cool jonesy.

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