What A Difference A Day Makes

The vegetable garden is as drought-proof as it can be whilst still producing some food. In effect what follows is called water ‘demand management’ – limiting its use.

Yesterday Jeff reminded me how low our rainwater tank is. Not that I needed a reminder, I decided last year not to have the vegetable garden in full production because spring is so dry in Brisbane. While we’ve had 89mm of rain from August to September, evaporation rates rapidly rise due to the increasingly warm, long days. Regular sea breezes have countered the effects of mulching. Three of the eight showers dried on contact thanks to following wind and two days of gales reclaimed two decent falls.

A month or so ago I gave away over half of my Codiaeum collection to friends who have more water and started planting out as many potted plants as I could.

Yesterday I composted my water demanding seedlings – spring vegetables and annuals sown in containers in the hope that rain might come before they needed planting. I lifted three rows of mangelwurzel (a quarter of my crop) and the last of the kohl rabi, both now in the fridge waiting for use.

I’ve been giving away vegetables and cooking as much as I can, but onto the compost heap went surplus zucchini (half), silverbeet (half), cabbage (three quarters), rocket (90%), dill (all – have enough dried already), tree tomato (all), lima beans (all) and mustard (all). All the tomatoes (they were just over halfway through cropping) are now drying on a frame, the stir-fry vegetables, Moroccan mint and coriander were cut down to save a week or so of watering as they reshoot. All the lentils were dug in as a green manure.

Now almost half of the vegetables have gone, with luck I’ll get by using just recycled water. Vacant spots have now been mulched while I wait for rain. In the space of 24 hours the garden has gone from green to the brown of mulch.

How I feel for those farmers…

Jerry Coleby-Williams


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