Monday, 24 August 2009

Microclimate Gardening and Food Forests

After last year's hot summer, I've decided to take a different approach this year - microclimate gardening.

The raised beds in our garden are made from Besser blocks, which is great for winter vegies as they retain the heat. However, they can be a bit warm in summer (last year I had to put this canopy up to raise the carrots), so this year they are going to host all of the heat-loving vegies, such as corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, melons, eggplants, etc.

The less heat-tolerant vegies, such as the leafy greens and root vegies, are going to be planted under and between the fruit trees. They'll still get enough light, but they'll also get protection from the hot midday sun; in other words, it will be the start of a food forest.

And I saw a neat idea on Gardening Australia the other day - pots with frames in them for growing Ceylon Spinach or Malabar Greens. These could be really useful to move around the garden to act as temporary shades and I'm also thinking of other plants we could grow in these pots.

I've moved the Queensland arrowroot from the garden into a big black bin under the eaves and it's put its first couple of leaves up already, about 2 months or so ahead of usual. I'm going to try this technique for also growing sweet potatoes and chokoes, so will tell how that goes later in the season.

We've worked out a site for a water tank to collect the rainfall from the roof and have finally agreed a site for the chook pen. It will mean moving the current compost heap, but that's OK with me. I'm also thinking about establishing a pond/bog area to house plants like water chestnuts (currently in buckets) and cranberries (currently in the bath tub); don't know if we'll get to it this year, but it's in the plan!

I lost a lot of time in the garden this winter due to illness and busy-ness, so I'm a little behind the eight ball. But on the weekend I got out in the garden and started weeding, feeding, fertilising (don't you just love chook poo!), planting and mulching under the fruit trees - twenty strawberry runners in so far. Haven't taken a photo yet, but will when I get a bit more done - hopefully next weekend (depending on the weather).

And last, but certainly not least, the bees have survived the winter (I was worried we might lose them when it was very cold and wet for a while) and we're thinking of putting in another hive. It is so terrific to see them around the garden and I'm planting up some extra herbs and flowers just for them.

love and light


dixiebelle said...

Glad you are back in the garden, and hope the warmer weather brings good health too!

Anonymous said...

We are planning a permanently shaded area for our veggies given our average 40+c summer days, things burn very easily here!
Have to love that chook poo!

naturewitch said...

Hi dixiebelle
Yes, I feel like winter is starting to draw to an end in so many ways. We really must all get together for a chat sometime and I'm still interested in giving bottling lessons. xo

Hi molly
Yes, the original wicking beds link you had on your site had a shadehouse over top. Not sure if it would be warranted here, but certainly in your locale. Hope all you new garden building is going well. xo

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