Gardening in Extreme Heat

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My apologies to those of you who live in the northern hemisphere.  Here in Australia summer has just begun (officially) after having sweltered through the driest and second-hottest spring on record.  Daily temperatures in excess of 30C, and sometimes 35C, have been the new normal here for several weeks.  Hot, dry and windy days have increased the fire risk to ‘severe’ on many days.  We live at about 400m above sea level and within 30km of the coast so our conditions are nothing like those facing the drought-stricken farmers further west.

Growing food in our current weather is a challenge but one I am prepared to try.  Summer means salads and salads mean lettuce.  So, I am growing lettuce.  I have some in one of the main garden beds which was grown from seed as well as some in styrofoam boxes that were purchased seedlings.

I water the plants thoroughly twice a day – early in the morning and again late in the afternoon.  I cover them during the day and so far this seems to be an effective strategy.

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We picked the first leaves today and are looking forward to plenty more salads based on lettuce grown without chemicals within 10 metres of our back door and completely devoid of packaging.

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A New Year

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The year may be new but many things stay the same.  I went back to work on 2nd January so time is tight but I am determined to make time for regular blog posts.  Unfortunately, I have been a bit preoccupied these past few days.  This has been due to the financial collapse of Bestjet and its impact.  You can read about it all here.

Anyway, we have dealt with that to the best of our ability at the moment and life goes on.  I am doing all of the things that I did in 2018 and continue to do in 2019.  Washing and ironing as well as preparing meals and trying to spend more time on sewing and gardening.

The garden is quite remarkable as we continue to harvest food with very little care or effort on our part.

Here is my haul from this afternoon.

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The lettuce, beans and tomatoes are all from self-sown plants.  We had lettuce and tomatoes in the salad with bean tacos for dinner tonight.  Since I found the beans, I think I will have beef and bean stir-fry tomorrow.

One of my goals for this year is to eat or drink some home-grown produce every day, preferably at every meal.  I am doing pretty well so far.

Tomorrow I will show you what I have been sewing.

Something for Nothing

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Remember those pavers we salvaged not so long ago?  You can read about it here.  Apart from saving them from landfill, we had a couple of projects in mind.  Once the builders realised that we were serious about salvaging and re-using as much of the materials as we could, they even collected the spent crusher dust (about a cubic metre) and left it in a neat pile beside the driveway.

Last weekend GMan used some of the crusher dust as a bedding for the paving under the new walkway.  He then cleaned and relaid the pavers.

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The edges are yet to be finished but we are really pleased with how it has turned out so far.

The fresh mulch was the other piece of work GMan did.  He dug up the last small area of turf between the end of the native verge planting and the walkway and mulched it.

There are still plenty of pavers and crusher dust left and we have other plans for those so watch this space.

Meanwhile, I was not being entirely idle.  I finished transplanting the beans which had come up self-sown in the bed where I grew them earlier in the year.

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Here is the corn I planted 3 weeks ago.  I think all but one of the seeds have germinated.

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Two of the other garden beds have been sown with seeds – one with cucumber and the other with rockmelon and a sprinkling of lettuce.  No photos as there is nothing to show yet.

Blooming Garden

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It has been cool and raining most of this week here so I thought I would share a couple of photos to brighten your day.

August 2017

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September 2018 – last weekend

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I am loving the dark wall backdrop and the contrast it creates.

Lavender is a bit tricky in our high rainfall climate.  It seems to last for a few drier than average years and then when we get really wet seasons it just curls up its toes and dies.

However, a decent sized pot is only about $12 so it is a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy one of my favourite flowers.

Home, Sweet Home

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The past few weeks have slipped by. I have been sick, on holidays and busy at work.  Not all at the same time!

Despite consuming more than my fair share of vitamin C, thanks to all of our home-grown citrus, I managed to succumb to a rotten cold nearly 3 weeks ago.  It really laid me low for the best part of a week then we headed off to Melbourne to visit our daughter.  Although it was cold we managed to rug up and get out and about and enjoy ourselves.

The break from work was most welcome but unfortunately it was all waiting for me when I went back to the office yesterday.

Meanwhile, it is lovely to be home and I am trying to catch up with the washing we brought back.  Yesterday afternoon I made a quick foray to the garden and picked some sweet potatoes which I used for dinner as well as a large bucket each of grapefruit and oranges.  These have all been juiced and will be drunk in an attempt to stave off any further colds.

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I am looking forward to the weekend and having time to prepare some meals for the week ahead as well as getting a bit done in the garden.  This will include the fairly rare activity of watering unless the rain promised for the next couple of days really does eventuate.  We live in a relatively high rainfall area so we are not drought-affected like so much of the country but it is quite dry nevertheless.  The lavender is enjoying the drier weather and is in full bloom.

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Other than that some sewing should round out my weekend quite nicely.  What are your plans?

Fruits of Our Labours

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Sometimes you seem to spend ages beavering away in the background with not a lot to show for it.  Then it finally comes together.  Yesterday was one of those days.

After about 5 weeks without a door on the dining room, it is finally finished and re-hung.  However, it was much more than a 5 week job if you take into account all of the time (years) that it remained unpainted and the agonising debate over what colour to use. We are both extremely happy with the result so it was worth the wait.

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And the view when it is closed.

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Of course, GMan has identified a couple of minor touch-ups which require a steady hand so I have been seconded to do those and the glass needs a final clean as there are a spots of paint on it.

Whilst not completely finished, here are some progress photos of the entrance walkway/arbour that has been in progress for a few months.

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Yesterday we added the final cross rail as well as the wire of the lower sections.

Here is a close-up of one of the mandevilla creepers that we planted. I hope that in time they will cover most of structure.  We have planted 3 and need to buy one more.

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The lawn has been dug up from beneath the walkway and will be paved.  We also need to work our exactly what size and spacing we want for the slatted roof.

 

Mothers Day Makeover

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For those of you who think this post is going to be about me with a new hairstyle or looking particularly glamorous, you are going to be disappointed.

GMan and I spent a good portion of yesterday and today (Mothers Day) working on a garden project.

Here are some before shots.

January 2018

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Then we planted some shrubs.

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Easter 2018 – GMan and my brother dug 6 holes and put in 3 posts.

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GMan and I then finished the remaining posts but then there was no more progress during April as we were busy socialising and celebrating.

Part of the grand plan for this space was to remove a portion of the lawn and plant some low to medium height native shrubs.  We had already planted a few in January and will add some more soon.

GMan dug up all of the lawn in squares then we covered the area with cardboard which we had been collecting for some time.  It makes a great weed suppressant and breaks down over time.  Finally, we covered the area with mulch which had been languishing in a pile below the chicken run.  This mulch resulted from some tress we had lopped ages ago.

I did not take any photos during the process as I was busy loading cut turf into the wheelbarrow and relaying it elsewhere.

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We did not have to move the turf too far as we have relaid beside the path just inside the gate.  It is a bit uneven in places but is an improvement on the state of this space previously.

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There is more to do yet – we will complete the portico and plant flowering creepers to cover it, plant some more shrubs and build a gabion seat in near the corner of the mulched area.

Like every area of our garden this corner is a work in progress and will develop over time.