Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Summer garden

For those of you who remember,  I was away from home for a few weeks in the spring.   I had a great time, but I arrived home in the middle of a heat wave... about two weeks of 35-40C weather in November.  This broke all kinds of records. The plants that I'd put in before I left, hoping that they wouldn't need much watering until I returned, were mostly dead.  Disappointing,  and it took a few days of thinking to work out what to do next.  I thought about subsistance farmers who must have the same issues and much more devastating consequences... no alternative food supply very often.
With climate change and more of these hot dry summers predicted,  I am ready to try a few different ways of growing vegetables and perhaps even some different crops that are better suited to the heat.
I have replanted quite a bit and installed my shadecloth.  I have watered judiciously and carried all of the dishwashing water out in a bucket... and it is looking interesting.

The tomatoes are flowering,  though a lot of days it's too hot to set any fruit.  Then today I found these...

... two tiny tomatoes.
And under the other piece of shadecloth...  the horta patch that is being taken over by mung beans, a row of okra, then soy beans for adamame and chinese broccoli, before the stakes that are there for the jicama and the beans.

The beans are "purple king" and these have grown quickly.  I read that they are heat tolerant,  so of course I tried them.  But I did see something interesting today.  These plants are under the shadecloth...

... and these are not....

 and they have folded their leaves up so that they are getting much less radiation...  I wonder whether these purple beans are better at that sort of thing than the other varieties.

This is the patch of "horta" that I made form the spice jars.  The lush green growth is mung beans and there are a lot of little onion shaped leaves (nigella?) and some aniseed and cumin and coriander.

As I poked around amongst these,  I found this....

,,, and I think that these might be chick peas.  I grabbed handfuls of everything I could think of when I went to plant this horta patch!
Chickpeas originated in south-eastern Turkey (domesticated about 6000 years ago)  and I suppose there climate there must be dry and hot also.  It is now the third most important commercial pulse crop,  despite being a "low yielding" plant.  This indicates that it must be "low maintenance" and may have low water requirements.  I'll be interested to see how some of these plants survive here.

I am trying a few different food plants this year...  taking advantage of the springtime disaster!

On the very LHS of the photo below, is one of the soybean plants (for edamame) and the main row, aside from the silver beet (swiss chard) with the thin leaves and red stalks (self sown) are the okra plants. They are also supposed to be heat tolerant,  though they also prefer greater humidity.. we'll see.

This is the soy bean plant (below.)  and there are a few of them that are looking pretty healthy.  It is in the shade (only on hot days... and it's about 35C already today, and rising.)

There is also a patch of coriander that is grown from a handful of seeds from the spice department at the grocery shop.  It is so thick,  that it is like a lawn.  and smells good.  I like the taste of coriander, though I know it is a strong flavour that some people don't like at all.  I will make some salsa as soon as I have tomatoes.
I have also decided to put some out in the "orchard" where the rocket grows wild in the springtime...  I might have a "weed" patch that is more useful than some others!  There is no reason that useful weeds shouldn't grow in the place of some less productive ones.

The bucket of chook poo and weeds is still moldering away too.  This will go onto the leafy vegetables tonight.  They'll get a dose of seaweed extract too.  It should make the plants more resilient when the weather is unhelpful.

So after a shaky start this summer, the garden is producing a little and we will have some summer crops soon.

And an update on the cactus flowers....

These are the two buds from a couple of days ago.
And this is the white flower that was so beautiful a day and a half ago... but there's a new bud on that one as well...

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