It’s been a while since you saw anything much from the Gardens of Chiconia.
So here we go. We’re having a very, very dry start to the Wet. No big thunderstorms, no days of overcast and rain, no monsoonal downpour, no water gurgling in the gutters, no grass growing so fast you can practically see it. What we laughingly call a lawn is dry and brown and crispy. My vegies are doing their valiant best due to nightly watering, but the rest of the garden is having to fend for itself, and some of it is looking a bit stressed.
Having said that, I’m thrilled to be growing any vegies at all. With the lack of rain is a corresponding lack of humidity, so things aren’t falling prey to mould, mildew and the other delights you face in the tropics. We’re picking tomatoes daily, the long beans (a local speciality) have just started to set and the snake beans are reaching for the sky but no sign of flowers yet. My capsicums keep flowering, but the heat is such that they won’t set fruit and just blacken and wither. The zucchini is producing a respectable number of male flowers but I’m waiting for the tiny female ones at the base to get cracking. Finally, the sweet potato vine is making a bid for world domination, and is investigating the local palm trees as potential climbing material.
All the dwarf fruit trees in tubs are hanging on, too. There’s no sign of fruiting yet from the mango, avocado or lychee, but they’re all thriving and in full leaf. The Meyer lemon has 5 fruit on it, and the Tahitian lime is covered in small fruit which I’m hoping it will mostly retain. Down the garden, the mandarin I rescued from the Burnie Vine is water stressed and has dropped all its tiny fruit bar one. It’s a long way from the tap, and the hose won’t stretch that far, so I keep a watering can under the airconditioning water outlet, which fills it for me daily, and the tree gets about 10 litres a day from that. The big mango trees down the bottom of the garden are looking dreadful, mostly denuded of leaves and full of green ant nests. One of the two has a solitary mango right at the top, and I’m not braving the green ants to go after it!
Frogtopia also receives a nightly soaking, and is looking lush and lavishly healthy. It must be OK, because there are loads of froglets in it – I counted at least 9 this morning. On really hot afternoons, I’m tempted to climb in there myself to cool down, but I don’t think I’d be a welcome visitor…
We’ve finally designated a section of the yard at the side to be the vegetable area. This prolonged dry weather has made it clear that we won’t be able to get away without an irrigation system long term, and the most sensible place is at the side, near the taps and partially shaded by the row of palms down the side. The area is generally green a little longer than the rest of the garden, and is handy for the kitchen. So now we just need to chop down all the remaining grass and weeds that are growing there and put down sheets of cardboard and newspaper to kill off the grass. After that, we can build 3 or 4 long raised beds, put down sugar cane mulch or bark chips over the rest of it, fill the beds with soil and compost, mulch them, and wait for autumn, when it will cool enough and dry enough after the Wet to start planting.
Plenty to do around here. Shame it’s too hot to work outside much….