Winter. Not exactly the best time to be an urban farmer. Cold. Damp. Slow.
This year in Donald (Western VIC, Australia) has been particularly cold and typically dry. Maximums have been consistently around 9-13°C with plenty of clouds. There has been a number of small, insignificant showers of rain amounting to just 37mm (1.5 inches) in June & July and only 128mm for 2015 (5 inches). So what do you do when it’s so cold, dry and slow?
WHAT WE’RE HARVESTING
We’re currently picking plenty of kale, spinach, silverbeet and chard as well as some secondary heads of broccoli (which are slow growing) and some leeks. This is nice and added to frozen beans from summer and the odd slow growing beetroot from the winter garden we can make do with buying a few veggies like potatoes and maybe a few carrots. There are peas in the garden which are flowering but not podding yet, and the broad beans are up and about, so when it warms up around September we should have a large influx of produce. The kale, beetroots, silverbeet and broccoli should all grow quicker and produce good yields come September as well.
GARDEN JOBS TO DO
Although we haven’t had enough rain to stop watering, and the cold has stunted the growth of some crops, the weeds have been running rampant. There has been lots of rye grass, stinging nettles and other small weeds poking their heads up and need to be pulled. The chooks are thankful for the constant supply of greens however!
It is also time to starting thinking about Spring-Summer crops and making room for them. Soon I’ll plant some snow peas and work beds with manure and compost where summer crops will be planted. I’m halfway through making a mini seed raising hot house out of an old kitchen cupboard which will be used to start off early summer crops and protect them from a late frost.
The idea is to have enough space prepared in the garden for summer crops to be planted out – beans, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, sweet corn, capsicum, potato etc – while still growing the current winter-spring crops. Then, when they have finished by summer, they can make way for succession plantings of the summer crops and rested beds ready for autumn. There are also fruit trees to prune like the massive over grown fig tree and the old nectarine tree. These will also be dressed with manure ready for spring growth and flowers!
It might be cold, wet & slow but there is always something to do!