March in the Garden
You can see last month's report HERE.
The garden on the 24th February
This is going to be a very quick report, as it has been a dreadful month.
First up was the stretch of extremely hot days, followed by high winds, that left the garden quite crisp in some places, and destroyed the Engineer's shade construction. This is what it looked like before:
It had lightweight aluminum posts, roll on shade cloth, the lot. They all bent in the wind, so we were left with the shade cloth just draped over the tomato stakes, which worked out okay anyway.
My construction is still standing, and stood the weight of shade cloth thrown over it, but I have to admit it was better after the Engineer replaced some of my lashings with good quality cable ties, with hose clips below them so they didn't slide down.
Then, on 9 Feb, the open coal mine in the next town caught fire, and ever since then we have not needed shade cloth - most of the days have been so smokey the sun does not get through. It was impossible to work outside on most days, and it only getting possible now. While it was a good excuse not to mow the lawn, life was very difficult. A thin veil of ash covered everything - but we are much better off than the town where the pit is.
So planting has been zilch, apart from moving some lettuce seedlings along.
Picking has been mainly the tomatoes, which have been good. We have not lost any to the birds, but catapillars are moving in now - the Engineer says maybe the birds would have controlled them!
The Romas and Grosse Lisse tomatoes were already failing before the heat set in, but the Mighty Red have been excellent.
The cucumbers were good, and interesting. They just got through the heat, but the went down to powdery mildew, and stopped bearing. Then, about a week ago, just as I was about to pull them out, they came back, and now have a new burst of flowers and leaves. I might let them go a little longer yet.
The pumpkins were the same - stopped flowering, but then had a second burst - same with the zucchinis. They have bad powdery mildew now, although there has been little rain, but I should get a good crop off them. You can get a little of an idea of the film of smoke that is ever-present in the photo above.
The pumpkin runners are tied to the fence rails, and all you see above is coming out of one compost bin.
Speaking of pumpkins - they are Butternuts, and I always get a grin out of some of their strange shapes, but this one takes the cake - It will be good, as all that long neck is solid, and it will only have the seeds down the bottom.
And this was another disappointment for the month. I picked up a packet of Mr Fotheringill's "Giant Single" sunflowers, having grown Russian Giants about ten years ago, and loved giant ones as a tiny kid. These are not giants - they are ordinary crop-sized, but possibly appear big beside the ornamental sunflowers around. Still, the little girl across the side fence (who I really planted them for) can see them over the fence, and loves them.
But next year I will find some Russian Giants. They are spectacular.
What did I harvest?
Apart from the tommies, there was lettuce, carrots, capsicums, lots of zucchinis, beans, tree onions, spring onions, cucumbers and the usual range of herbs (parsley thrived through the lot). The chillies are just starting.
Plans for the next month?
Survival, for a start. Pull the tommies when they finish, and get the garlic and broad beans in. More carrots. Harvest the pumpkins. Beyond that I cannot think, but I will enjoy reading about how others got along through the heat.