Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Late summer garden '09

Time for some truth shots. My early summer garden started out gorgeously, thanks to some much needed rain. But then as summer progressed the conditions dried and I was unable to keep the moisture up to the vegetables.

So what happened after 3 months of warm, dry conditions? Take a look at my butternut pumkin vines.

The butternuts have been the hardiest crop. Despite a touch of powdery mildew, they have fruited and produced a good crop. They are still fruiting. One of the vines has died back completely but I didn't water that one at all. The pumpkins are what I watered the least, but they have still managed to survive and produce, without being overrun by pests & disease.

Another vine crop that did well considering I didn't water them at all, was my large bottle gourds.

There were 4 vines planted in this space, but now only 1 still grows. The gourds themselves however are drying in the sun where they lay. There are several fruits over the wall, where the dead vines had dropped them. If this was a crop I could eat, I'd be planting them everywhere. But as they're more for craft projects once they've dried, I'll keep one crop a year.

The brandywine tomatos did okay for the first few weeks they cropped. But due to the humidity and irregular watering, they have succumbed to many tomato diseases.

As they're planted around the chicken coop however, the chooks love eating the fruit still on the vine when free-ranging in the afternoons. We did get a few edible fruits early on but I must say, the flavour wasn't that great. I put it down to the conditions they were grown in however, not the particular variety of tomato.

My Sunflowers have died back, as expected after they flower. I've got the best seed-head inside, drying for next seasons planting.

But I've also had a few visitors, helping themselves to the seed heads too. I suspect cockatoos as they've been hanging around a lot lately, which they don't normally tend to do. I haven't seen them raiding them yet, but their presence has been noted in the early mornings.

Never mind though, I have a few more heads I can cut off now and dry for the chooks. But now down to the real sad performers this year. Just look at my pathetic apple cucumbers.

They cropped quite a bit, but as I couldn't seem to keep the water up to them, the fruits were often tasteless. Another free feed welcomed by the chooks! But I've learned that cucumbers need a lot of moisture and I need to review how I'm growing these plants next year.

Another poor performer has been my sweetcorn crop. I don't think they fancied the humidity or constant heat, which shows in their sunburnt leaves. These guys need more shelter from the sun than I've given them this year.

The pumpkin vines began to trail through the corn, but I don't think it was enough to retain the moisture or shield the roots from the intense summer sun.

You can see that I've gotten a few husks appearing, but they will be chook food for sure.

Not is all dead and shrivelled up in my garden though. My citrus trees made it through their first summer - not surprisingly the Eureka Lemon, Tahitian Lime and Kumquat have just thrived despite the hot conditions. The oranges and manderines were a bit more temperamental and attacked by pests. They are doing okay regardless.

A lovely surprise now greets me when I visit the garden though, and that's the Marigolds.

They remind me there's still life in the garden and I've given something else for the bees to eat.

Nonetheless, I'm going to have to implement new ways to address my vegetable garden to get the most out of a growing season.


  1. mmm this sounds very familar, lots of things started off great in my garden but then died for unknown reasons, its all the luck of the draw :o)

  2. our lemon is thriving too (and the pumpkin), while all around has been hit hard by the hot weather we had. The garden is looking v. sad. I've just planted some seedlings so hopefully it will spring back to life soon. I have sunflower envy - ours never make it there's always a bird around to pull them out. Next year I'm going try again, plant more and maybe net them until they are bigger.

  3. Looks a lot like my garden! Pumpkins have taken over, but not much else is growing too well. Looking forward to some cooler weather gardening coming up!

  4. Guess you'll be needing to find lots of recipes for pumpkin this year. Sorry to see that you have struggled with a hot dry summer. If it's any consolation I'm sure it goes in cycles - we had hot and dry for the last few years and this year it's been raining almost constantly. So your dry will end too *smiles*

  5. Oh dear, how did I miss these comments? Like you Rinelle, I'm definitely enjoying the cooler weather for gardening.

    In fact, my pumpkins have had a second wind and churned out a whole new batch of butternuts. We had it roasted the other night. It's like having organic butter, melting in your mouth. I couldn't stop eating it. I even went back for seconds!!

    I think we were very fortunate with our sunflowers Jacqui. We always have galahs and the odd sulfer crested cockatoo. I've saved the best seed head so hopefully next year we'll get some more!

    Isn't this wet weather glorious Andy. Well not for bobcat work, but definitely for plants. ;) Looking forward to seeing your update photos when the weather clears for you in Brisbane.

    Nicole, have your plants come back to life? I thought I'd killed off quite a few, but even the rockmelon is pushing out another batch of fruits.

    I love autumn gardening. Everything seems to be coming back to life!


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