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Roots and Perennials Planting in Mid Spring – Getting Ready for Frizzle Weather

It’s cool and damp today, a perfect planting day.  Soooo tempting.  But I know that within a month or so, we are likely to be getting frizzle days, days when the fire danger meter down on the main road points to Extreme. (It hasn’t been updated yet to include the new category introduced since the Victorian bushfires – Catastrophic – but we’ve already decided to follow the advice of the Rural Fire Service, and arrange to be somewhere else on those days.  Our house is well prepared, but the warning is that on those days, nothing is well prepared enough.)

We’ve had frizzle days ever since I’ve lived here – nearly 30 years.  But with climate change, they are becoming more frequent and more extreme.  That’s the climate change pattern.  The weather has always been variable, with long cycles and short cycles overlapping and catalysing each other to create occasional “extreme events”.  Climate change just raises the whole kit and caboodle a notch or two, so what was a “very high” fire danger becomes “severe”,  what was “extreme” becomes “catastrophic”, what was a defendable position becomes foolhardy.

We’ll leave on a catastrophic fire day, but the climate change pattern of bumping everything up a notch is likely to mean that what was a grassfire that would go out of its own accord at night, or be easily fought, becomes a bushfire that needs serious attention.  We’re becoming more and more conscious of conserving water for firefighting.  So although we have a lot bigger reserves these days, I’m even more reluctant to plant things that will need watering.

So, mid-spring, heading into summer, la Ninã or no, I’m not planting any more fruit trees, not even to replace the jackfruit and macadamia twisted off at the base by the storm this week.  I’m planting  my usual round of carrots and spring onions, and that’s it.  I’ll wait till February, when the worst of the fire season is over, to plant trees. I won’t even regret it if it turns out to be a wet summer.  It’s not about politics, it’s about risk management.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • brenda October 18, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I just got to listen to your podcast with Gavin. You did an awesome job. The things you shared about your living circumstances were certainly eye opening. It makes me want a water tank and to be able to garden more seriously. Things like having sporadic electric, very little transportation, or being unable to repair water lines or sewer lines – there are so many things to consider if there were calamity. What an experience your family had.

    When I was 13, we spent a year in the Phillipines (Air Force brat). There were no embargos, yet it was still quite illuminating to see how folks lived.

    Now, I did not know you are a published author. :)) Must see if your book is something I can find here. What is the title?

    brenda from arkansas

  • Linda October 18, 2011, 6:39 pm

    Hi Brenda, It’s called “The Permaculture Home Garden”, but I don’t think it’s easily available in USA. Was it a good experience for you, living in the Phillipines? I tend to think it does teenagers good to see how most of the world lives.

  • Linda October 18, 2011, 10:00 pm

    Hi Linda, Fantastic post! We need to realise a bit of thought and planning need to go into each fire season. And you’re right, there have been years that we have had hardly any water but we always keep some aside in case of fire.

  • Frogdancer October 18, 2011, 10:14 pm

    Like Brenda, I just finished the podcast. As I said on Gavin’s blog, tonight was a very good night for me to hear it. I discovered yesterday that the expensive “compost” that I painstakingly shovelled into my 9m worth of raised wicking beds has a ph of 10. I’m torn between being ropeable and depressed, with a strong inclination to crawl into a bottle of wine and give away gardening altogether.

    Hearing your list of things that the Cubans would have done to prepare made me feel better; I’m doing all of them with the exception of the bike. (I hate exercise.) Still a bit sad about my lovely wicking beds and the seedlings I raised from seed that are slowly dying, but now I’m more motivated to stop sooking and get in there and fix it. Thanks!

  • brenda October 19, 2011, 5:24 am

    OK, Linda, see what you think of this? Your book is on Amazon. com ranging from $38.44 to $347.42. It must be a collectible. Is that cool or what?

    All the moving around we did seemed great when we were little and after high school, but during high school I was jealous of the kids that got to grow up together. Though, the adventure outweighed that. My Dad had made local friends by the time we got there, and Mom was intent that we “experience” as much of the local culture as possible: the foods, people, the different holidays, traveling where it was safe enough to travel, the clothing, etc. I think it helped us be more open to and respectful of differences, and made us more grateful. Plenty of teenagers today don’t have a clue about gratitude. I think your family is really lucky to have had that experience – what do your kids say about it now?

    brenda from arkansas

  • kim October 19, 2011, 6:39 am

    Another thought provoking post, Linda. I think the decision we made to have a farm 30 mins walk from a local town is going to be very beneficial one day, the way things are going. Transition towns are going to be essential to our way of life.
    The thing about these posts is they are attainable , ‘not scary’. we can do it , if we go the right way about it.
    The change in climate here in the valley has been quite dramatic. I was telling my children what the summers and winters were like when I was a child here, and it made me realise just how much things have changed. I cannot believe it is almost November and we are still wearing jumpers.

  • Anne Heath October 19, 2011, 8:07 am

    Our summers are mostly “Frizzle” days so one of the early things we learnt was to plant in the autumn not in the spring. We have had much better results since we did that. this year we have actually had a real spring, mostly mild but variable temperatures and some rain so the temptation was there but we managed to resist it.

  • Linda October 19, 2011, 9:12 am

    My kids both speak Spanish, at least to the extent that they would pick it up again fast in a Spanish speaking country, and they’d probably be able to learn another language relatively easily – the neural pathways are there. Unlike for me, where it was a real struggle and my Spanish is still abysmal. And they both have what I think is a good appreciation of what the words “need” and “want” and “wealthy” and “poor” actually mean. It was a family decision to go – we gave them the option – we all had to agree. It was harder for my daughter – she was 13 and like you had a conflict over whether the adventure was worth being separated from her friends. My son at 10 was the perfect age – big enough to carry his own backpack and to appreciate the adventure, but young enough to go with whatever was happening. They both say now though that they are glad we did it.

  • Linda October 19, 2011, 9:31 am

    How did you get compost that alkali? That’s extreme! Organic matter is usually acid if anything. What was in it – Lime? Wood ash? Mushroom compost? Salt? It’s not going to be easy to get it down from that! I’d be ropable!

  • Gwenneth Flaherty October 19, 2011, 2:56 pm

    Hi Lindy,
    I am very new to being online?? I will be visiting your blog etc in the near future. I have another friend who wants to garden and lives in inner city New Farm. I have the land. I have the tools. hoe pick etc ( all bought at show grounds down there) .He will come over next week and we will discuss community garden here. I also know one lady and hubbie who has started chooks in the city. Lisa the lady I was with — Husband Andrew keen to get chooks too. Wow. the goslings , great. I am still blown away at just being able to use the internet and find you and see them
    We drove out to visit Chris then the storm chased us back. What a ripper. We drove with the wind flying leaves, dark all around and lighting everywhere.

    It was like those storm chaser movies on tv.
    . Another lady wants to give me her worm farm –in a bath tub .. that is all new to me. So I will stay in touch.
    I love gardening and have done a great job doing grass ( my front lawn from seed) and the entire garden bed. Started the fenced in herb garden and ready to convert the back yard into garden and maybe chooks. I have the energy and the attitude so will stay tuned in as I have no idea about much else.

    Lots love to you and yours
    Gwenneth

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