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Leafy Planting Days in Midsummer

summer garden

My garden came through the frizzle weather of the last couple of days not too badly, though the dam is low now and I’m very much hoping we don’t get more of it before decent rain.  We have 100 silver perch in there, just getting big enough to eat, and the geese and ducks use it too, so there’s a real limit to the amount I can afford to battle heat waves with water.

Stacking to the north, shade, mulch, and plant selection did the trick though.  This photo is of one of my fully fenced beds, looking from the north towards the south.  Below me (I couldn’t fit it all in), around the northern fence, are non-climbing curcubits – potkin pumpkins, squash and zucchini, and beneath my feet is some aragula (wild rocket).

In summer I plant my fully enclosed garden beds with climbers right round from the east to the west.  Climbing beans are really resilient in heat waves, and provide good shade to everything else.  I can use a lot of beans by the time we eat them fresh and let enough fully mature for dried beans.  Cucumbers and tromboncino need more water, and they wilt and drop fruit in the heat, but the vine survives.  Sweet corn is also a good heat wave survivor. The eggplants, capsicums, basil and perennial leeks in front of them get the benefit of shade for much of the day.  Some of the fruit was burned but most survived.

The only leafy in the picture is the young amaranth.  In other beds I have mature amaranth, over a metre tall and taking up most of a square metre of space. It’s a good, resilient, heat loving summer green (even though it’s not actually green).  I harvest leaves and stems to use where I would use spinach or chinese cabbage in winter. There’s no lettuce in this bed.  There are a few, mostly buttercrunch, scattered around the garden.  Few enough that I could protect some of them, and some them got fried.  There’s a bit of parsley that hasn’t gone to seed, and it survived.  There’s some rocket that suffered but the wild rocket was fine.  I was happy that I haven’t been planting many leafies since early spring.

Today is cool and overcast, such a contrast.  And it is now past the summer solstice and heading into what is normally our wet season.  I planted a new tray of leafies on New Year’s Day, and they are just coming up now.  If I were going to plant brussels sprouts, they’d be in this box, but I’m right at the northern end of their range in a good year, and I’m not betting on a cool winter this year.  So sadly I’ll give up on them now.  It’s still just a bit early for all the brassicas here – they will be big enough to go out into the garden in about 6 weeks and the cabbage moths will still be too active then.  I ummed and ahhed about silver beet and celery and leeks, but they’ll be better in a month’s time too.  So just a little starter for leafies but their time is coming.

leafy midsummer

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Vanessa January 8, 2014, 8:19 pm

    Your garden looks nice and lush despite the heatwave. Hope you got some rain in the last few days to top up your dam.

  • celia January 9, 2014, 9:18 am

    Our leafy greens are coping quite well with the unpredictable weather – we still have lots of red amaranth, and a couple of cos lettuces in the laundry tub. The leeks are a bit dormant at the moment, but the mutant squash and the two true trombies are going gangbusters. For us at the moment, it’s snake beans! 🙂

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