Here in Melton West we have had an unusually dry spell. What am I taking about, this has happened for the last 8 years! The last time we had any rain to speak of was 10th of December 2008 so you can imagine how dry it is around here. Before that, it rained in July. I have never seen the ground so dry and dusty. Thank goodness for a rainwater tank, and the privilege of being able to water the garden two days a week from mains water whilst still on water restrictions. I have to supplement with tank water about 3 days a week just to keep the fruit and vegetables alive.
The lack of natural rainfall tends to stunt the growth and yield of the harvest, but being a keen as ever, I simply plant more seedlings to compensate. Here is an example. My brother Scott sent me a photo of his sweetcorn. He lives in South East Queensland, and they have had tonnes of rain lately. Check out the height of those things! They remind me of Day of the Triffids.
Well done Scott, but I expect the rain has helped just a little! In comparison, here is my crop of sweetcorn. Small, but 40 plants in total to make up the stunted growth. The tallest is about 120cm tall.
The taller plants have two ears of corn each, and are maturing quickly. In this bed I have two plantings, one month apart so to enjoy a longer harvest.
Just the other side of the tree to the right is the other bed I planted in the front yard. It contains cucumbers at the front, and to the rear are watermelon, rockmelon and African horned melon. They are growing steadily as I am using gray water from the washing machine every other day on these.
Here is a different angle. You can see the melons better.
The bed behind that one is the next plot that I intend to tackle, and the one behind that is where I am going to pull out a dead bush (can’t remember the name of it) and plant two blueberry bushes.
Leaving the front yard now and through the gate you can just see above. Kim and I took out one of the veranda trellis to give the illusion of more room in the east side garden. It certainly worked, because it now feels like a much bigger space. We can even see the chook house in all its glory.
Just behind those pots to the left of the shot above is my Dwarf ANZAC peach tree that is two years old. It has cropped in the last week and we harvested about 40 peaches. They were the best we have ever tasted. Small, sweet and juicy. Click to enlarge.
Kim started screaming and tried to nudge them away with her foot! Well that didn’t work and I came outside from making my cup of tea and saved the day. I picked the three pieces of fruit they were attacking and threw them about two metres away, told Kim to guard the remaining fruit, and then proceeded to pick up each chicken whilst they were distracted and put them all back into their run. Crisis over, and I laughed so hard! I then went inside, got a bowl, and picked all the fruit, which we ate over the course of the last week.
The next bed which is beside the chicken coop contains purple Russian tomatoes, Jalapeno chilies (2 years old and going strong), and rainbow chard.
Around the other side of the house where the main veggie patch is located are beds. In the first bed we have the pumpkin and zucchini patch, which is going well. I am just starting to get small pumpkins and zucchini developing now. Note the two blueberry bushes in pots at the head of the bed. Those are the ones I am planting in the front yard.
Before I started hand pollination, I notice that the Golden nugget pumpkins would develop flowers and then shrivel up when the flower died. I now have a few big fruit since I took over the sexual relations for these plants!
The next bed are the lone eggplant (aubergine), and 3 varieties of tomato, Tommy Toe, Black Russian, and Tigerella.
The citrus trees in the pots behind are receiving about 3 litres of water a day each from the water we save from the pre-hotwater in the shower. It keeps the fruit from dropping off with a daily water. I noticed last year that when I watered them twice a week, the pots dried out so quick that not only did the forming fruit drop off like lemmings over a cliff, but the leaves went yellow very quickly. This year I have avoided both problems.
Bed number three contains the sole capsicum plant from last year, and is cropping well. It has bigger fruit than last season.
It also contains the wicking pots surrounded by the lettuce I planted about 6 weeks ago. They are so healthy that we have such an abundance and I can’t even see the pot lids anymore. I think I planted too many seedlings, because I usually have such a bad strike rate. I fill the wicking pots only on the two days a week I use mains water. The soil stays nice and moist. You can even pick the lettuce in the heat of the noon sun and they are still crisp. In this bed I also have red spring onions, mizuna and snow peas at the back.
Bed number 4 contains more tomatoes. I have a Tigerella, a Effie, a Mortgage lifter, Tommy Toe, and two unknown from a mixed packet of tomato seeds. It will be a bit of a surprise when they fruit.
Deep inside the mass of tomato vines, there are my first ripe tomatoes. No prizes for guessing which type they are.
The last bed has two small capsicum bushes, Yellow current cherry tomatoes, and rainbow chard. Strawberry pots and Rosemary in front of the bed. The strawberries are developing runners, so I will have to buy a few more pots and plant them up.
All in all, not a bad garden for bugger all rain! Here it is in all it’s glory looking from the front.
And from the rear.
A lot of work has gone into the patch so far this year, especially with keeping the moisture levels up. All worth it though in the long run, and I get a great feeling of joy knowing that very soon I will be harvesting lots of home grown produce.