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Leafy and Fruiting Planting Days in a very Wet Mid-Summer

My poor garden is soggy.  For the last two decades I’ve been much more concerned with drought proofing it than with flood proofing.  Last year we invested a small fortune in lining both our dams, the larger “back” one as a source for water for the garden and to try growing fish, and  the “front” one for fire protection and a home for geese.  We built a fire fighting tanker trailer  and installed barrels with mops on the verandahs for mopping up sparks.  All that seems so odd now but I have no doubt it will swing back into relevance.  Extremes are what climate change is all about.

(My hope is that this current bout of floods in the east coupled with bushfires in the west of Australia will show what scientists have been trying to say.  I blame advertisers.  We are so innured to dire warnings of dreadful consequences if we don’t buy some trashy product that we just don’t believe what people say any more.)

Meanwhile though, I am squelching round in ground too heavy to plant out.  I’ve looked at the drainage, but my beds are already raised and my garden on a slope.  The natural soil is shaley, with decades of adding organic matter.  There’s not much more I can do. Just too much rain.

I try not to walk on the garden beds when they are very wet – it compacts the soil too much – with the result that the shadehouse is now full of lanky overgrown seedlings that have not had enough sunlight to do well.  Time to clean out and start a new round.

I did have a Pollyanna moment realising that the floods have left beautiful banks of creek sand, just the right texture and easy access (you were wondering what that picture was all about!)  so I’m stocking up on it, bringing several buckets home with me every trip to town. I have some lovely mature compost that I’ve sieved and mixed 50/50 with the creek sand.  It’s a bit heavier a ratio of creek sand to my usual mix but we are theoretically just at the start of the wet season.

We’re past the summer solstice now, and in under a fortnight, at Lammas, we will pass the peak of the bell curve and the days will begin to get shorter at an exponentially faster rate, so it’s safe to start planting bolters again. I missed the leafy planting days last week,  so I’m planting seeds of lettuce (purple oakleaf and green cos),  spring onionsleeks, flat leaf parsleybasil and lemon basil,  rocket, aragula and amaranth. I’m also going to try Perpetual Green silverbeet on the recommendation of  Gary from Uki (thanks Gary!), though I’d usually steer clear of silver beet for another month or two.

I’m also planting seeds (not too many) of brussels sprouts.  They always feel wrong planted this time of year, right when all the other crucifers have just come out.  But they take such a long time to mature, and our winter ends so early, that if I want any chance of harvesting any I have to plant seed now and try to keep them safe from aphids, cabbage moths, web moths, and all the other things that like brussels sprouts until the weather cools down.

I would normally have quite enough eggplants and capsicums and chilis by now but the rain has created gaps in the garden, so I’ll plant a few more seeds of Corno de Toro capsicums and Jalepino Chilis.  I might give up on eggplants for this year.  I’m sticking to very hardy cherry tomatoes in this wet.

Beans are doing really well, so I’ll plant more  Brown Seeded snake beans and Blue Lake climbing beans. Cucumbers are doing so well that I need only one Richmond Valley cucumber plant to keep up continuity. I’ll plant another three or four zucchini and button squash, and select just a couple of each to plant out, to keep up continuity on them too.  Pumpkins have planted themselves so I won’t bother with seedlings.

And after all that, a swim in a very full, clear dam.  There are some advantages to the big wet!

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Anne January 20, 2011, 8:04 am

    Things can change in a flash, we are already back to steady watering here and will keep most current crops growing as they are so close to maturity but really I have planted too much because the conditions have been so good. I guess weather has always been unpredictable but now it is more so. Perhaps the very expensive fruit and vegetables might just get people thinking about climate change more than any warnings or research would.

  • Christine January 20, 2011, 8:53 am

    This wet summer is really odd, isn’t it! All of our leeks have gone to flower, along with the lettuce and parsley. I think I will let them self-seed and perhaps try some coriander in a sheltered place (I miss it when it’s not growing – but it bolts SO quickly!). I’m also planning on putting in some more potatoes, this time in the greenhouse. I haven’t ever tried them this late before, but hopefully being under cover they will cope when the frosts arrive. Brussels sprouts are something that have never behaved for me..I find them really tricky to grow!

    Firefighters are predicting a short, intense fire season for our area this year with the focus being on grassfires from all the extra growth that has occurred with the rain. Abundant creek sand and swims in clear, full dams sound lovely…the least nature should provide after throwing such a lot of turmoil our way! 🙂

  • Linda January 20, 2011, 9:19 am

    Hi Christine, have you tried culantro (Eryngium foetidum)? It is perennial and much hardier than coriander in my climate. It’s slow to start but once established, it just keeps going. It’s a completely different family to coriander but the flavour is identical. The only difference is that it holds its flavour much better in cooking.

  • Christine January 20, 2011, 9:37 pm

    I haven’t, Linda – thanks for the info. I notice Green Harvest stocks seeds under “Mexican Coriander” (Eryngium foetidum). I may have to give it a go, thanks again!

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