Yesterday the weather god threw up a temperature of 41 C and the day before that, 37 C. Welcome to Melbourne in the summer. Huh! Not amused.
Most food plants were badly wilted—some will recover and some wont.
I managed to throw some mosquito netting over most things but it’s not real shadecloth and it just wasn’t enough. In any case even the shade temperature combined with low humidity was just too much for most plants, at least those that aren’t native to the area.
So I need to rethink the whole idea of growing food in the summer if temperatures like these are going to be the norm, and I can’t see any reason they’re not going to be.
But…..here’s the amazing thing. The plants in the water-wicking boxes didn’t turn a hair! I’d made sure the water reservoirs were full in the morning; I didn’t put shade over them and when I went to have a look in the evening after the cool change had come, the plants were standing up, lush and tall and green, no sign of burned leaves or wilting.
So wicking boxes are definitely the way to go. By next summer I hope to have many more in operation.
Our property slopes quite a bit but I’ve managed to find a level spot where I think I can get in another dozen boxes. The location is near one of the small water tanks, so I’m going to rig up a dripper system from the tank whereby I can add water automatically to all the boxes at the same time, because one of the problems I’ve found so far with the boxes is that adding water by hand via the vertical tube at the side of the box is painfully slow.
I’ll still use the present vegetable growing area, but in a more limited way and will rig up some structures on which I can spread shadecloth when necessary. These areas will still be fine for winter vegetables.
There’s also room for a few more wicking boxes on the deck.