Sunday, 29 January 2017

Unusual Summer Weather

It's looking unusually green around the Barossa this summer. Such beautiful living weather; no long hot spells, regular rainfall every couple of weeks, the gardens are still perky, the grass/lawn is still green (which means we're still mowing every couple of weeks..sigh) and vegetables crops are producing well.
Summer rains are not so good for bee keeping, wine grape growing, crop harvesting and sheep farming.
Not all of these challenges effect us, but a couple of them do.
Bees.. The unusual weather, cold nights and higher than average rainfall, has affected the nectar release in the flowers. The bees are collecting plenty of pollen to feed their brood, but nectar is in very short supply so they're not making enough honey to feed themselves or for us bee keepers to extract. Like anything where we depend on nature, bee keepers have good and bad years too, so there will be no honey for us to top up our supplies this year.
Most people think that it's a given that we can take honey every year, but it's just not so.
Sheep... Damp warm conditions are a perfect environment for fly strike in sheep. The blow flies lay eggs deep in the wool of the sheep. where they hatch into maggots that feast on the flesh of the host sheep. Fly strike is not confined to the tail area of sheep, so no amount of mulesing will prevent fly strike. Don't get me started on that horribly cruel practice, needless to say, we don't support that kind of treatment for sheep.
Checking our flocks of sheep that are situated about the area on various blocks is a daily event now, and the job is made much easier with Meg the kelpie sheep dog.
Occasionally a sheep will need treatment for body strike. Using hand clippers the wool is taken off the affected area, the maggots are scraped and flicked off, (yep, it's an awful job but it has to be done). The area is treated with a fly strike preparation that kills any eggs, dries up the area, and repels further fly strike.

An update on the pineapple growing in the glass house. It's really looking like a pineapple now. According to the comments from readers who know much more about pineapple growing than we do, they take approx six months to develop into an edible size, from flowering stage. So I'm expecting we might get to harvest this one in our winter (May, June). Some small flowers are appearing on a few of the other plants in the row too!

We eat only seasonal food, so the appearance of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini in our garden is a cause for great joy. Every meal consists of these delicious organic foods, in some form, usually raw.

 Tomato trellises.
Raspberry trellises at the other end of the vege garden, under 50% shade cloth. A few rambling Queensland Blue pumpkins are growing in a vacant area, watered with the grey water system from the bathroom.

From front to rear- zucchinis, lettuce, rocket, capsicums, horse radish, rosemary, lemon balm and garlic chives.
Chillies, Goosberries, cucumbers, beans and dragon fruit are along the bottom part of the patch.

My self seeding herb and vegetable garden patch, that is nearer to the house.
A message to all of those people who have been here to various functions in the past month and saw this garden looking very messy, you can now return and see why it was looking so messy.
The seeds that fell, are now coming up. The empty seed heads and spent plant stalks have been cleared away, given to the pigs to munch on. There is some order in this little patch once again.
Not too much order though... I don't work nature like that. There are still some flowering plants that are yet to drop their seeds, the bees need to eat too.

Mustard flowers.

Tomato plants from the prunings of Brian's tomatoes that were planted in October.  I wrote about taking cuttings to make more tomato plants here.
 When his tomato bushes have finished fruiting, there will be more tomatoes ripening on these younger bushes that were planted later, extending our tomato eating pleasure.

Self seeding rocket and the water container for lizard friends inside the enclosed self seeding vegetable patch. A rock on the edge of the water and small rocks inside the container to prevent any drownings from smaller lizards.

 The little orange tree is making good progress since I pruned and fed it in November. It gets a weekly feed of liquid manure or nettle and comfrey tea.
I have so much more to tell you, and show you, but this post has become quite long enough and I don't want you glazing over.
I bottled off my kombucha and put a kettle on the gas to make another batch just before I snuck away to write this. An hour has whooshed past and, yes you guessed it, the kettle is still on the gas, almost empty!! Ooops!
Time to get back to the tasks that need doing.


  1. Your garden is looking great! I don't know whether it's
    the weird weather but I've had the best crop of tomatoes
    for five or six years. I wasn't going to plant many
    this year...maybe just one or two...but you know how it
    is, one or two plants became about thirty. Good thing too!

    1. Are you in SA Barbara? I agree, one can never have too many tomato plants, especially when we can "make" them for free.

  2. Yes, I'm in Adelaide (Parkside) but isn't the whole
    country getting weird weather this summer?!

  3. Sally, I think we are having your weather up here in our normally cool temperature climate. We are heading into another week of hot days and it seems to be happening each week with not a lot of rain inbetween not even from storms. At least the tomatoes are growing here but I am going to pull out most of the veggies. I am a bit over the heat :-)

    1. The weather all over Aust has sure gone belly-up Chel. Too many hot days really saps my energy, so I can understand how "over it" you must be feeling.

  4. I think Nanna Chel is right, we are getting the heat, week after week, up here. A struggle for plants and gardeners too. I've let my vegie patch go for now, though I'm still getting cucumbers and zucchinis:) Your zucchinis and tomatoes look lovely! I'm glad my cherry tomatoes are in pots this year as they are doing well and I can move them if I need to. While I haven't planted anything new in my vegie patch for a while, I have replanted in my wicking barrels as they are partly shaded. Fingers crossed my lettuce doesn't bolt in the heat forecast for later in the week. Meg:)

    1. Great idea planting tomatoes in pots Meg. I'm trying to talk Brian into making a couple of wicking beds. ;)

  5. Your garden looks so good. I want to be a gnome in your garden, and live there every day!

    I tend to pick my pineapples, heading into winter as well. Just depends how warm the growing season was.

    1. A garden that is so easy to manage now Chris. I'm thankful that I put in the effort five-ten years ago, mass planted drought tolerant species, so there's very little space for weeds to grow, usually looks green all year, and requires little water. A trim back now and then, a bit of mulch from under the cow hay racks, and although it's messy in some folks eyes, it suits us. I'll keep you posted on the pineapple.


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