This is the time of year that I need to assess how the summer is going and then... where to from here. There are a few things to consider... how the various species are doing in the current season, what to consider with respect to crop rotation and how long things will need to begin producing.
This year has been unusual for me. I was a way for the beginning of this spring/summer season and so a number of my usual crops weren't planted until later than usual. This has been a problem because of the very hot and dry weather, but I did learn that the earwigs can't cope with the lack of water either and therein may lie an advantage in the long run. A few of my tomato plants are looking wilted... no doubt one of the soil based wilt diseases, probably fusarium, as that is what I've seen here before... not good, but I'll know exactly where these problems are next season.
The places where vegetables are doing the best are those spots where I dug in compost that was made from pine needles. This particular mound of compost is very interesting. It has taken a long time to break down... about three or four years... but now it looks like soil with fungal mycelia growing through it. I am a great fan of fungi and I am so pleased to see the grey mouldy mess amongst the soil that has resulted. I haven't tested the ph, but it must be lower than our usual alkaline clay and I'm sure that this is a big advantage to me.
The other consideration now is that January is the time to plant the first of the winter vegetables for next season... brassicas especially... and here we are at the end of January!
The summer crops are coming on, and I have eggplants, peppers, zucchinis and a few tomatoes. I can usually get enough potatoes for dinner, though the hot dry weather is not the best for these either... I will plant some to grow during the winter again this year... these were so much more productive during the winter, and without the need for supplementary water!
Other plans for the next few weeks include another load aof wood for cooking. I am able to find quite a lot in the backyard, and there is plenty on the side of local roads, but I also have a "wood man" who supplements my cooking supply, and I need to contact him (there's no answer on his phone lately.)
There is a large tree in my yard that shades the water heater in the winter. My plan is to have it chopped and chipped and I'll leave all of the remnants on the soil around it... this will be spectacular. The tree is a kurrajong and these are useless as firewood (otherwise I'd have other plans for it) but I'll lay the chips on the ground under the tree and let them rot... in a few years time I should have another pile of soil... I just need some fungi to get to work there as well. It may take as long as the pine needles, but it will break down into some of the best soil... and it has all of the nutrients that have been assembled by a big old tree.
I checked the soil under the mulch that I laid out to protect the "fallow" patch and the soil is remarkably cool to the touch. That was my plan, but it's good to know that it's worked.
The chickens are laying, the broad bean patch is half cleared (ready for the next patch of brassicas) and we are eating from the garden again.
The tomatoes are not doing well. I have a few, but not enough to preserve this year. It has been very hot, and they don't set fruit when the temperature is regularly over 35C. I will be able to buy some very cheaply though... from the shade houses in Angle Vale (down the road from here) and I'll pick them in a few weeks time (when they are very cheap) to preserve for next winter. I need to get down there for olive oil anyway.
I have been reading quite a bit lately, and doing a bit less drawing, though I'll be posting some more during the week.