Monday, October 30, 2017

Growing season

What are the cues for your growing season? It was technically Spring here, a month ago. But the garden was still in stasis, due to a lack of moisture. In fact, plants were dying out there.

Storm activity arrived in October, allowing the ground to soak in some much needed rain. But the mere presence of rain, is NOT the cue for our growing season to begin, in earnest. Especially if it's been dry.

What our best cue is, however, is the lower gully, flooding...

Footbridge to cross main flood way ~
click to enlarge

It took several days of rain, for the ground to be soaked and allow water, to run on the surface again. A good week of rain, saw water rising, but it was a gentle flow. Good for avoiding erosion.

Even though we saw water in the gully - moisture in the ground wasn't going to last long, once the sun came out again. Which it did, and the ground slowly began to dry out. But then the second storm, told a different story...

Same footbridge ~
taken from the safety of our verandah

It was a small event, compared to some regions in Queensland, but our whole gully was flooding, because of that storm. Which is the best cue I could receive for the growing season.

Because we have 3 channels of water that disperse in our gully, when it floods. When they all join together, I know the ground is more likely, going to stay moist for the rest of the growing season. So it's not just the gully flooding, which is my cue, but how many channels are flooding at the same time.


It all starts when the water enters our property, from several of our neighbours upstream. The water entering our property, is always red, because no-one attempts to hold the water back, further up. So we end up with soil from the properties upstream.

As it's a narrow channel, the water enters fast. But when it comes onto our property, it immediately disperses as far as it can spread. How much water, determines whether all 3 channels, will flood.


In this particular storm event, all three did! The upper channel (highest ground) is furtherest away. The middle channel is, of course, in the middle - with the lowest channel, being on the bottom of the picture. The lowest, is the least likely to flood, but when it does, I know there's a good amount of water in our gully now.

Here's what all three channels joining together, look like, in the middle of our property...

Mulberry, centre

It flows like a river. When the mulberry is surrounded by water, I know it's set to survive the heat of summer. So our mulberry in the middle of our gully, is another potential cue I look forward to. Although the heat of summer is still yet to come, the ground has been flooded with water. Which is a good sign.

Because when you live in the bush like we do, it's a good to have the ground saturated, before summer arrives in earnest. I must confess to being a little nervous about the prospect of bushfire season, before this rain arrived.

Near the end

Further downstream from the mulberry, the water is dispersing more and therefore, slowing further. Our lucky neighbours downstream, have little to worry about the water entering their property. It's slower, less aggressive, and therefore less dirty water. Especially once it passes through our wide thicket on the boundary.


30 minutes after the rain had stopped, the water receded again. 


So the gully is completely dry again, and will await the next storm to overflow it. I like having this gully in the middle of our property - even if it cuts us off from the other half, when it floods. Because it's the perfect visual to tell me about the growing season.

Summer will still give my systems a hard time, because the heat is always so intense here. But knowing the gully has flooded completely, cues the growing season for us, in earnest.

What cues exist in your landscape, to tell you about the growing season ahead?


  1. Gee, that's a LOT of water. I would freak out if I had that much flowing over my property. You seem to have controlled it well, though, even the bonus of soil from neighbours and keeping it where it matters...on your own land. Clever!

    I can't think what clues exist for me....maybe it's just the new growth buds on all the plants. I know the soil is fully hydrated when I go to dig holes to plant, but then we usually have good winter rains here.

    There's one thing I notice when the clay is drying out....I have a spike to hold the hose (from the tank) when watering. As the soil dries out it gets harder and harder to push into the ground. And banging in a stake is well nigh impossible in mid summer. I put in all my tomato stakes before I even start planting tomatoes...any later and the soil would be too hard!

    1. It's a little unnerving, but the verandah is about 15-20 metres above the gully floor. So we're high and dry. Still, it's very loud!

      I like the idea of using the soil density as a gauge, for how hydrated it is. And you grow tomatoes every year, so you'd get a bit of practice over time, learning how it's responding to the conditions. You've even adapted by timing your stake installations, at just the right window of opportunity. It's fascinating reading how others read the often unpredictable, conditions of the growing season.

  2. It's always interesting reading about other people's properties. We are on a hill, so when we see water running along the back of our yard from the next door property, and into the property lower than us, or down our driveway we know the ground has had a good drenching. We're still waiting for that this Summer.Bring on a storm, please. Pauline.

    1. I find it fascinating too, because everyone has their own landscape cues to observe. I hope you get that rain you're after. It's wonderful when it finally arrives. :)

  3. Following the October rains - and we did not have any storms or fierce winds here, our soils are moist and the dam is full. (The dam pump broke though and we just had it repaired today.) However the return of the hot weather usually signals a slow down in planting and a transmission to maintenance mode for me.

    1. I've read that about others slowing down their growing operations, for summer too. Some stopping all together. It definitely makes sense, but for us, we don't get the big rainfall events until summer. So it's a choice between growing in hot conditions (when it's wetter) or growing in dry conditions for the rest of the year, when it's dryer. I don't have the water storage capacity yet, to avoid growing in summer. I need those summer rains.

      But it does come with the risk of hail and wind damage too! Often, it's rolling the dice, lol.

  4. We've had lovely rain here, Chris, and the soil is moist down to a good depth again. I don't think I'll change my plans for planting though. I tend not to plant as much for the Summer just because daytime temps can be really harsh. I've got cucumbers in and we've started picking those + cherry toms and lettuce. I will put in some capsicum and try rockmelon from seed and that will probably be about it. Meg:)

    1. It makes a lot of sense to avoid summer growing. Or keeping it to a bare minimum. Especially if you're already time poor with other responsibilities in life. Watering daily (in our case, by hand) takes up a lot of time.

  5. I wished we lived closer to a waterway, even though it brings flood fears with it, as there is something about water that brings out the calm in me. Our land is elevated somewhat so the majority of our rain, after soaking into the ground, drains away into fields south of us. Better than those fields draining into OUR property since they are conventional and loaded with chemicals.

    1. Oh, you definitely got the better equation, being upstream from big farm chemicals. Although it's all a bit scary, isn't it? I can't believe they put that in the ground (and subsequently food) believing it's safe.


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