Summer is our monsoon season in South-East Queensland. Lots of storms with deluges of rain! For us it presents a particular problem with soil erosion, but we're developing stratagies to minimise it. On the garden front though, we're cultivating an increasing jungle!
This picture of our veggie patch, was taken from above (near Hilltop chicken coop):
It's a tangle of pumpkin, watermelon, rockmelon, zucchini, sweet potato, corn, beans and sunflowers! I didn't really plan how things went in, as our design is constantly evolving. We did manage to grow some sweet corn cobs, but something ate it before we could! Oh well, the chooks loved the leftovers.
Speaking about Hilltop chicken coop though...
Some volunteer pumpkin vines from the compost have taken over! It's creating a cooling effect around the coop, along with the shade-cloth I was given recently, which covers the exposed areas of the run. I have another choko vine to plant here, and I hope with the pumpkin vines for protection this time, it will end up growing. Maybe by next summer, I'll have a choko covered run instead?
At the moment though, many of our retaining walls are being covered by vines!
In the background are the watermelon vines and in the foreground are the rockmelons. I hope by the end of summer, we have some yummy fruit to eat. The sunflowers are always a bonus! These were planted from the sunflowers I grew last year. They always add such a lovely splash of colour in the garden.
And finally, to show what a bit of rain does to a garden - here's an earlier picture taken in Winter/Spring. We hadn't planted out the batter of our newly constructed wall, but you can see the veggie patch in the backround.
And here is the same perspective a few months later!
See how everything seems to green up! Yes, we have even MORE rockmelon (or watermelon) vines which sprang up voluntarily from our compost. There's a perssimon tree in that tangle of vines, planted on top of a mound - where the compost was used. Thankfully, we've managed to plant extra trees this year: a black mulberry, astringent perssimon, 2 pears, avocado (fuerte) and a kumquat and pummelo tree to go in soon. Just trying to find the right space to plant it!
We've identified several problems this year however, which need addressing in our garden.
1. We need to mulch all areas of exposed soil, whether we are finished moving dirt or not. It's a stratagey to reduce erosion by improving the structure of the soil. Moist mulch allows for increased microbial activity, where exposed, compacted soil only repels moisture.
2. Digging swales and a series of small ponds to slow down the flow of water. In addition we're planting trees close to these water stores to soak up moisture. We've already started digging the swales by hand, as the summer storms have enforced the need for better run-off stratagies.
3. Integrating animals into our planting systems. These most obviously are our chooks, but recently our daughter also received some guinea pigs as a Christmas present. Our neighbours also have goats which we can share our "weeds" and overgrown grass with. This requires fencing however, something we need to work on this year.
Anyway, more on the garden in my next post. I want to share how my luffa trellis went.