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Rainy Missed Planting Days in Late Summer

suyo long cucumbers

My poor garden is soggy.  I know rural people talk non stop about the weather, but the weather at the moment is really discussion-worthy.  This summer has been the hottest on record, and we are now flooded in again, for the third time in the last month.  We do live on the other side of three flood-prone causeways, and it isn’t noteworthy to be flooded in occasionally, but for the last month it just hasn’t stopped raining.

So I haven’t planted anything for this round.  The seed would just rot before germinating in this weather. It is part of the whole permaculture approach to gardening to plan and prepare for extremes. A garden that gets knocked out in one go by a few days of the frizzle weather of midsummer, the waterlogging of a floody autumn, the frosts of the dead of winter, is an awful lot of effort for no yield.  So I design in shade and water conservation and systems to survive the extremes of midsummer heat. I design stacking of beds to face the north and sheltered microclimates to protect from frost.  And I have terracing and drainage and soil structure to survive waterlogging.  But there’s a limit.

It’s still yielding well.  The Suyo Long cucumbers have joined the favourites list, coping with the wet weather without developing mildew.  The tromboncino are throwing lots of male flowers again, but there’s too many of them anyhow.  The zucchini and squash are not living to an old age – they’re succumbing to stem rot younger than they would in ideal conditions, but successional planting means I have young ones that are resilient.  The tomatoes are tending to split, but again there’s plenty.  The beans are bearing well as green beans and I’m not even trying to dry them.  The capsicums are tending to split too, and there’s not so many of them, but the milder chilis are filling their spot.

It will be in three months time that the result of this patch of wet shows, when the seed I would be planting now would be bearing.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • farmer_liz March 2, 2013, 3:45 pm

    I know, I feel bad complaining about the rain after I complained for so long about the months of NO rain leading up to this rain, but really, its now been raining for weeks! Some of my veges that were struggling in the heat have now taken off in the rain, beans and trombocino being the main ones, and lots of little brasicas popping up everywhere, so there is plenty to eat, just all the animals look so miserable, its impossible to keep any of them dry, so I just hope we get some clear days soon.

  • linda March 3, 2013, 3:36 am

    awesome post and I feel so sorry for you all with all the rain praying really hard that it will ease for you all

  • ChopinandMysaucepan March 3, 2013, 8:54 am

    Dear Linda,

    Looks like you have a lot going for you in your garden with all that wonderful produce although I have never heard of Suyo Long cucumbers before. Hope the weather turns for the better for you.

  • Lorna March 3, 2013, 9:46 am

    Hi Linda,
    It seems so strange to hope for no rain, but it sounds like you really need a break!
    Here in New England, I’m just gearing up to start seeds indoors; it’ll be a few months yet before outdoor planting weather. I do have an odd question for you–I’ll be attempting the permaculture approach to most of my new-to-me yard, but for this first season when a market garden is a necessity, and I’m breaking ground for the first time at our new property, I will need to have some ‘traditional’ beds and rows. I’m curious to know if it is better to orient the rows so the long way is north to south (to allow excess rain run-off), or should I prepare them the long way east to west (for sun exposure)? Our land has a gentle slope from north to south, which faces the sun here in Massachusetts. I haven’t found any gardening books that can point me in the right direction, and I’m curious to know if there is a ‘better’ way to place garden beds and rows?
    Thank you for any advice you can give!

  • Linda March 3, 2013, 10:02 am

    Hi Lorna, I have to admit I don’t like winter, and the idea of starting planting indoors in preparation for spring sounds much more attractive than the “build up the woodpile, get ready for winter” that we’re doing right now. I would guess in your part of the world that maximum sun over the growing season, and lengthening the season as much as possible, would be a priority. I would guess that you don’t have to design with periods of several days in a row over 100 degrees F in mind. So that makes your climate very different to mine. I plant in spring with an eye to creating shade, necessary for the very hot, very dry weather we get in early summer. In your climate, I would plant in spring with an eye to maximum light, specially since you are far enough north that the sun angle will be quite low.

    I don’t know what your rainfall would be like, or your soil’s drainage characteristics. If waterlogging is a risk, then make rows north-south. But if the soil structure is good and the rain likely to be gentle rather than flooding, I would plant rows east west with a very stacked design – short things like carrots and lettuces on the southern-most rows, tall things like indeterminate tomatoes and pole beans and corn in the northern-most rows. It won’t matter so much at the height of summer, but it should give you a few vital extra weeks of growing and ripening at the end of the season.

  • Linda March 3, 2013, 10:08 am

    I did once swear, after the decade long drought of the 90’s that I would never complain about rain again! I am actually very lucky – my garden is a bit soggy is all, and it will quickly recover. And being flooded in is really a bit of a holiday! I feel for people in the path of Oswald who were inundated, gardens and houses under water. It is hard to design for disaster when we are facing the unpredictable and unprecedented extremes that climate change brings on.

  • Joy March 3, 2013, 10:54 am

    Ditto your last comment about never complaining again about rain. We said that in late November when everything was parched and stinking hot. I planted some of your bean seeds you so kindly sent and they got going before the rain set in again. No flowers yet but they are still growing – so far. Thank you. Living on a ridge has its benefits in times like this because we do dry out quickly. The weather always throws up challenges doesn’t it, no matter where we live. Joy

  • Lorna March 3, 2013, 12:40 pm

    Thank you, Linda! I’ve enjoyed your blog, and am grateful for your advice.

  • Liz March 3, 2013, 8:24 pm

    Its mad isn’t it – so far we are 30% down on average rainfall year to date despite having had about 40mms in the last couple of days. It rained on one day in January here and 2 in February. I think the rain gets to the Murray has a look and thinks nah I wont bother them down there. We have been hot though – most days over 30 in Feb ever I think it was. See it isn’t only people in the bush who are obsessed by the weather….I did grow up in the country though so perhaps its bred into me.

  • Linda March 4, 2013, 7:59 am

    It is mad. The weather is always a bit mad, and human intuition isn’t up to the job of picking trends out of all the noise. So it’s nice to see that Bureau of Meteorology agrees with my gut feeling that this is more than normal mad.

  • kim March 5, 2013, 7:43 am

    We are having similar problems with the weather…though the kids and I quite enjoyed our ‘flood day’ yesterday, having the day off school. One of the things i have noticed in my garden the last two years in a row , my passionfruit vine and guava tree start flowering at the end of summer as they are so thrown out by the weather ….. then the fruit doesn’t ever ripen because it gets too cold. I am starting to change my planting to suit for most things, but it is hard to predict the unpredictable.

  • Linda March 5, 2013, 8:55 am

    There’s nothing wrong with the occasional flood day. Like snow days in northern climes. But you do get over the uncertainty.

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