August in Queensland for me is about planting for summer. Our family readies the soil a month in advance for planting at Ekka time. For those of you who are overseas or out-of-state. The Ekka is the Brisbane Agricultural Show held in the second week of August. If you want watermelons, rockmelons and pumpkins for Christmas this is the best time to get them in. Mind you mine still have not come up which is probably due to a lack of water, so I am doubtful if I will have any melons for Christmas this year.
We have also planted in the past few weeks; two more rows of spuds – dutch creams, corn, okra, more Asian greens as my others went to seed due to stress, more tomatoes – black russians, roma and black cherry. We hope to transplant the black russians in the coming weeks now that I have decided on a spot close to the tank for water. Below is a tray of seedlings still needing to be planted out, we also planted some marigolds through the garden to encourage the bees and well add a little colour.
Disaster struck this month with my lovely chickens discovering their new favourite food – kale. They had been totally uninterested in the garden for months and since Roy and I have started watering the garden each afternoon they became interested in what we were doing. We have solved our problem and put up a wire fence around two of the sides to stop them from getting in to the patch. They will have to scramble through the wild bush to get through if they really want to. With only the stalks left of my kale, I have fertilized them, plucked off the last of the eaten branches in hopes they return to their former glory. Yet the chooks kept digging out one of my tomatoes which after a week of having its roots exposed with me covering them back up daily, it could just not hack it any longer.
Like most of us we know water is really important for our gardens. Many of you have been very jealous of the lush green surroundings of my property before. However, from August to Christmas is our dry season. Yes it does stop raining in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Our heavy clay soil cracks and opens itself up to allow any moisture to get in. While we have been getting heavy dews in the mornings which wets the plants and dampens the soil it’s not enough to keep my plants green. The last day we recorded some rain was on the 28th July it was a whopping 2mm. Now the waiting game is on, the rations of water are delivered to the garden daily, saving the lives of the summer vegetable seedlings and sacrificing the last of winter crops. Above is my potato bed, the only thing green in there is the weeds. The yellowing of the leaves is the start of death, we tried to save them as they had not flowered yet. Hopeing for a bumper crop of spuds we ended up with a lot less than expected. This also comes down to our soils condition – it needs work.
Another issue with no rain, seedlings go into stress all my asian greens I planted out last month in my raised beds have mostly died or if not gone to seed. I have left them now to fend for themselves, hopefully spreading their seed throughout my garden for when the rains do return.
We have had a bumper crop of mushrooms over the past month picking over 20 kilos of the buggers. I have hit my mushroom quota – I never thought it could happen but it has, I don’t want to eat another mushroom for some time now. We use mushroom compost in our raised beds and as soil conditioner for our heavy clay soil. Over time it breaks up the clay making our soil much more friable and easy to work. Needless to say in five years time my soil will be so good that I will be able to grow anything with ease and less water. It’s a work in progress.
We have had plenty of lettuce with one of our lettuces self-seeding through the garden.
TO DO – SEPTEMBER
I have organised with my neighbour to come over once a week with a big tank of water on the back of his four-wheeler to give my garden a generous water. In hopes to keep the plants thriving until the rain comes. Noticing that my soil needs a lot of work in my bottom paddock I will be organising with another neighbour to get some more mushroom compost. The potato beds will be dug, turned and then covered with mushroom compost and them a thick layer of mulch. This will hopefully bring back the worms and start the long process of breaking up our heavy clay.
September for me is about water conservation, cleaning up the beds, maintaining the weeds and nurturing what is still living. We are also putting our shade-cloth back up on the garden near the shed which will be transplanted with Asian greens and lettuce – close to a tap.
What are your plans for your garden this month?
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Linni At Home – NSW
Clear Mountain Living – QLD