All is not well in the vegetable gardens of Chiconia…
OK, it’s early spring here. But you’d never know it by the weather. We had 31C yesterday (88F), and more of the same forecast. We’re desperate for some rain, especially in the country areas of Western Queensland. Many weather and temperature records have been surpassed and well and truly smashed up and down the state.
The sun beats down like an iron rod, and many of my vegies are deciding they’ve had enough of the struggle and are dying en masse. Some are not surprising: the beans are not really tropical creatures, and like northern Europeans on a Spanish holiday, they’re wilting in the sun. Others never really got the chance to get established before the temperature ramped up so much, like my tomatoes, which are stunted little things producing one desperate offspring each, in a bid for immortality. And some are loving it: the capsicums are flowering and fruiting like mad. It’s a good time for them, the rains haven’t started yet, so there’s no danger of blossom end rot, and the sun is ensuring they grow and fruit well. The salad leaves are a mixed bunch: I’m grateful I didn’t put in any lettuce, as that would bolt straight away. The rainbow chard, spinach and rocket are struggling but holding on. One of the rocket plants has bolted, but I’ll see if I can curtail the mad stampede by nipping off all the flower stalks.
There’s only one thing to do, and that’s move the whole vegetable operation wholesale to a shaded area. Fortunately, I have somewhere for them to go, but getting the irrigation to them is going to be tricky, and I may have to water instead.
On the upside, once that fence line is clear, I can compost, water, dig and turn over, and plant my climbers: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (brunfelsia latifolia), Panama Gold Passionfruit, and Star Jasmine (trachylospermum jasminoides). They’re designed to be both beautiful and useful: the flowering ones will give sound proofing and some visual privacy from the neighbours, and the passionfruit will give us something delicious to eat. The main problem’s going to be keeping them under control: they’re enthusiastic, to say the least.
I’m a long way off my dream vegie garden. Raised beds, a raised walkway around them to keep them and me out of the wet in the Rains, a netted cage to keep out birds, fruit bats and possums and provide some shade, and a well-considered and extensive irrigation system. The area behind the carport is earmarked, but there’s a lot of clearing to do, some construction work, a bit of money to be spent and a lot, a LOT of time required. All of which will have to wait. So I continue to struggle on with vegies in tubs and hanging baskets, feeling increasingly sad at little lives lost. I know they’re only vegies, but they’re so hopeful and valiant when they go in. And I can’t do anything to mitigate the temperature, except provide as much shade and water as I can. Maybe I should concentrate on the tropical stuff, and accept the inevitable with the rest.
Meanwhile, the stuff I pick will provide the makings of a nice frittata…