The Gardens of Chiconia 26: The Wet is dry

It’s been a while since you saw anything much from the Gardens of Chiconia.

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Long beans – those long stalky things at the front ARE the beans. They’re going to be huge when they’re ready…

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Baby limes. I know they won’t all survive, but I’m hoping that a handful make it through this dry weather

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.

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The sweet potato heading for the trees. There’s so much of it now I couldn’t get it all in one shot. If it gets any worse, I’m going to pinch out the tips and eat them in a salad.

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Front to back: Desert Rose, Avocado, Lychee, Lemon, Lime, Mango and Flame Tree. Frangipani in the blue pot you can just see at the front.

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!

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Frogtopia: you can’t really see the tiny trickle of water coming from the pile of rocks, but it’s all water under there. The pot is partially submerged and on its side to give frogs a cool hiding place in hot weather.

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What are they all looking at?

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He’s looking at it too…

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…

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The future vegie patch of Chiconia. The taps are just behind the trees in tubs on the left. You can see how green the grass is there; it’s where we put everything around a sprinkler to be irrigated each evening while I was away in hospital. The brown crispy stuff at the front is how the rest of our grass looks…

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….


18 thoughts on “The Gardens of Chiconia 26: The Wet is dry

  1. Gail says:

    So nice to have a tour of your garden.

  2. EllaDee says:

    Summer is definitely the time for making gardening plans and doing little else other than keeping up the water. Despite the relative dry, The Gardens of Chiconia are looking lovely and productive. Frogtopia looks wonderful – ours would love their own special place but they just have to muck in with the rest of us!
    In Sydney, and at TA I think, we’ve been getting daily storms. Good for the TA garden and water tanks, not so good for the G.O.’s work site production.

    • katechiconi says:

      Send some of that water up here…. The HoC has to have a ‘wash day’ when it’s too wet, the mines won’t allow the big tankers onto the site in case they get bogged or just slide off the haul roads, and work slows to a stop anyway so they’re not using the fuel. Nice and restful…

  3. Boiling hot in Cape Town, too. Far too difficult to work outside. Luckily indoors is where my bed and books are.

  4. tialys says:

    We had some snow yesterday. Just saying….

    • katechiconi says:

      Shut up, shut up! 32C here. Not a breath of wind. Overcast grey sky. Ought to be rain. Isn’t. I’ve just come in from giving everything its nightly drink. The froglets are in full song…

  5. Ooh how I envy you your frangipane, limes, mango and flamboyants etc. They take me back to my Island days – mind you, we never had a drought, so I don’t know how they would have responded. I hope you get some proper rain soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      It would be lovely. We keep getting a scent of water on the air, and thick dark clouds…. and then it passes. The dustbowl formerly known as our back lawn is covered in twigs and dead leaves. It’s summer here, the tropics. That sort of stuff isn’t supposed to happen.

  6. Jen Gardener says:

    Aw, I like your baby limes. Silly little plant. You should tell it to just make one really good one per stem.

  7. It’s all lookign wonderful and making me very nostalgic for our veggie garden in Spain – mind you, apart from lemons and chard there wouldn’t be much going on now there!

  8. I wish I could sent you some of our rain, we have too much !!! I hate the weather at the moment, cold, wet and frost at night so slippery roads in the morning……I’m so jealous for your little green frogs !!!!, we only have “big”ones

    • katechiconi says:

      I’d love some of your rain, but I fear the problems of actually getting it here will be too great! And our little frogs would not survive your climate, so we’ll each have to keep our own kind…

  9. Nanette says:

    I have all your rain Kate…….great downpours and crashing and banging hail stones as big as golf balls! It’s lovely! But still hot and humid, worth it though. I was given a sweet potato plant and popped it in a tub……..I hope it’s not going to run away like yours has.
    You sound pretty chirpy, you must be feeling good?

    • katechiconi says:

      I think it’s the frustration that’s getting to me. All day, we have big fat grey clouds passing overhead, huge heat and humidity, but nothing falls. Look out for the sweet potato. It’ll run… Give it a trellis or teepee and it’ll go upwards. I’m not short of room, so I can let mine travel as far as it wants. I’m feeling really good, thanks, full range of movement, no pain.

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