Is This Year Unusual?

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Is This Year Unusual?

Postby abrogard » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:31 am

I wonder if this year is unusually harsh, difficult? Because I have had tomato, beans climbing and bush, broccoli, red cabbage cucumber and eggplant in since early Spring - following the planting charts and planting out seedlings that grew well in seed trays - and nothing has done any good.

They haven't died. But they haven't grown. The vibe I get from the garden, if one can use such vague, 'hippy' type language, is grey and lifeless, dispirited.

I put shade cloth up - white 50% - and that improved things a bit inasmuch as things didn't lie down and die or crisp up in the heat quite as much - but they are still not zooming ahead.

So I put a low windbreak on the south side of one patch and there's a distinctly better feel there now. Almost get a buzz of content. But still no dramatic growth.

Just one - a fairly recent addition, grown from seed, too - zucchini. I have zucchini growing monster deep green leaves. So not all is lost.

I'm a beginner. I just wonder. Is this unusual or is this what I should expect? I thought Spring was the time when everything boomed up out of the ground.

Have I got it all wrong? Is that Euro-centric thinking? After all, nearly everything I try to grow is Northern Hemisphere stuff. I distinctly remember last year, Autumn and Winter - couldn't stop the produce coming out of the garden - late Winter right up to spring snow peas cropping heavy...

It got me all fired up. So I prepared for Spring expecting a veritable avalanche of good stuff. And instead... this...

Should I be looking to Autumn and thinking of the growing season as Autumn/Winter?

I am, of course, aware of the professional market gardeners round about with their fields of healthy vegies at this very time. But they practice black magic and have access to arcane secrets of great power.
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby jaden62 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:42 am

I don't know, I'm not having a good year this year either. Alright, I've only been gardening for about 3yrs, but I'm not getting anywhere near the successes I've had other years. Normally by now I'm drowning in tomatoes & chillies - this year I don't have any. Plants aren't flourishing. I'm hard pressed to find a male & female flower on my pumpkins @ the same time, my beans aren't flowering or producing - in fact, my mother & her neighbour are both having the same complaint about beans. Even before the heat, things just didn't seem to be growing "quite right".

I'm in the Adelaide Northern Suburbs. I've had shadecloth up to protect from the hottest days, I'm watching the garden closely & trying to ensure that I'm watering enough (but not too much to make things too soft), I've got windbreaks to slow the north winds down, I improved & refreshed the soil in a couple of beds, I've made 3 new beds, I've got things growing in pots, & nothing seems to be working properly. I go to place like Bunnings & see their tomato seedlings that are over a foot tall, mine don't make it past about 3-4", no matter how long I leave them in the pots (same pots as Bunnings has). They don't necessarily die, they just seem to go into stasis & don't do anything.

I'm at a loss as to what to do as well.
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby Stormgirl » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:38 am

I don't know.

I don't think my year has been any better or worse than others...I'm no expert, but have been growing things for about 15 years now. I think some years are better than others, certainly, for some things, but maybe not for others. Example, I have been growing mango trees in Sydney for many years. Sydney is not ideal for mangoes, but there are some years of success and some (most) years produce almost nothing. I think climatic conditions play a huge part. Last year, for example, Sydney had a very wet and cool summer, this year it has been dry and hot. Some things have been flourishing in the dry heat (like my basil, which did poorly last year) and some have struggled, like my beans, which like it warm, but not too hot.

There is also a lot of trial and error and experimentation involved. Another example, my tomatoes are now succumbing to blight, but I gave them a very early start by planting them in August. While they languished a bit with the cold, and the growth was a bit stunted,I had tomatoes from November and they are now finishing, just as the fruit fly starts to become active. So, I had to risk my tomatoes to the cold so as to avoid fruit fly season. It's all a bit of give and take. One year, I planted my beans in a heatwave. Not one came up. I did a bit of research to find that beans won't sprout in extreme heat. I tried again a few weeks later, to find they all came good. This year for the first time, i planetd zucchini. Lots and lots of flowers and baby zuccs, but most of them came to nothing. Not sure what happened there, but I will try again next year. Maybe I planted them too closely and the bees can't find their way to the flowers.

So, in summary, yes, the year could be unusual for your crops, but there is a lot of experimentation to be done to find out what suits your own microclimate. And, yes, a lot of luck too! To be honest, i think summer are dead months in the veggie garden, and the best time is spring...that's when everything is doing its real growing and the garden seems most full of life. Summer is really just a time for maturing. And remember, most things like warmth, but not extreme heat. I know Adelaide gets a lot of heat in January, and it can go on for days and days at a time.....that would stress any kind of plant!

Never stop experimenting. That's the fun of gardening. :mrgreen:
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby abrogard » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:45 pm

Jaden is sharing my experience, I think - we seem to be doing virtually the same things and getting the same results. It is the Adelaide area this year, I think. Very weird.

Spring got sprung and then lapsed back into Winter.

On any given day Winter is liable to give way to High Summer.

There's been no rain - and it doesn't matter how well I water I notice the immediate difference when the rains come from the heavens (because of the chlorine in ours, perhaps?).

And that wind dries out leaves on a plant that is standing up well because there's moisture in the soil - it still can't take the heat.

Pumpkins growing well suddenly get white or colourless vines and then die back, drop dead.

I get the message. Take note of every little thing: e.g. what months and what day/night temperatures did such and such a plant flourish in ( or die in ) ?

A few degrees, a couple of weeks, can make all the difference.

So I'm going to expand my seed raising area. I think I need a good stock of many seedlings on the go all the time so's I can replant that which dies back for one reason or another, until I learn enough to know beforehand what will go well.

And I'll pop some more zucchini immediately, I think seeing that's the only thing that's going really good... better start some new tomato, too...

Thanks for the input...


:)
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby greg.l » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:52 pm

You have to do all the obvious things. Keeping the water up is very important in hot weather. I have been getting good results with the dripper tube, puts the water right where you need it (not the weeper hose but the stuff with holes every 30cm, pressure compensated.) Keeping the wind out is also very important.
You have to add fertiliser every crop, because you always lose some. Keep adding compost to the soil, and straw on top.
You should be able to get vegies in hot weather, just keep trying to improve things till you iron out all the kinks.Gardening is a process of learning, you never stop.
I would say water and fertiliser are your most obvious places to start.
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby gardenlen » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:56 am

dunno?

our gardens only new planted in spring or late winter, all things grew well and produced most done their life now, still got capsicums and tomatoes from that very first planting, got newer planting of beans going now and zucchini as well, sounds like you may need to look at growing medium? they should produce ok on a couple of waterings a week, we only have tank water and with no rain since late winter we really have to stretch the water or we would have no gardens and most of our planting would perish, lost a couple things so far, i save my wee and all used water gets mixed together and used, our water melons are doing well a are our lebanese cuce's.

very dry at present and as our beds are yet to get a complete soaking all our water is spot watering.

we use heaps of gypsum and because there is an acid issue in spots a dash of dolomite, some mushroom compost kitchen scraps tucked under and heaps of slashed grass mulch.

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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby karyn » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:34 am

I'm in Adelaide, and this year's pretty normal for me, except I've had more wilt in my tomatoes. I have more zucchini and button squash than I'll ever use, I'm drowning in cucumbers. The beans are a little dry this year, but I probably need to pick them more often. I'm picking Tommy Toes, and the larger tomatoes are ripening slowly. The corn is 2 metres high, my basil, spring onions, carrots and broccoli are all doing well. I had an ok pick of plums, the apricots were larger than normal, and the apples are getting there. The nectarines aren't ripening though, but it's the same with all my neighbours. I think my bets tip is preparation. If you add good stuff to the soil all through the year, make good compost, and water it well, you should be able to cope with everything else that happens. I have definitely watered more this year, because I have areas of hydrophobic nastiness - if I let it dry out, it's a bugger to get it moist again. Build up the edges Ab, make it higher, add horse poo, chicken poo, pea straw - don't dig it in, just put it in layers. Leave it to cook, the worms will find it.

Don't get disheartened by the stuff at Bunnings, it's grown in perfect conditions with masses of fertiliser and pesticides. I buy a lot of punnets of seedlings rather than growing from seed as I work long shifts and things get dry while I'm at work. Yesterday I put in more carrots, more beetroots, summer spinach, sugar snap peas, more spring onions - all seed. You can plant broc and cauli now, you'll need to net them against the cabbage white moth.
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby karyn » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:51 am

005.JPG

Beans, basil, zucchini, button squash behind the zucchini. The sheet goes over the beans on days above 35.C. It just gets tied to tomato stakes to provide shade.

002.JPG

Cucumber, eggplant, capsicums, spaghetti squash, the last of one beetroot crop, marigolds, zinnias, asters, dahlias, broccoli in the background.

001.JPG

Corn, tomatoes, spring onions, carrots, the last of one patch of beetroot.
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby abrogard » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:50 pm

Well I'll be damned....

Thanks for that. I don't know what to make of it right now.

I'll keep on building the greater seed raising area... that'll take some of my time... got to make benches..... And more shade up - you don't even have shade, do you Karyn? - that'll take more time but I want it done... And drip water... I want that, too....

Then I'll be able to get into the garden full on, all the sort of 'building' stuff done.... more compost, manure, whatever, more plantings, etc... see if I can recover something, get back into it, find out what's been going wrong... I'll test pH for instance...

Thanks for the advice and observations, especially your shining example, I guess, Karyn, being in the Adelaide area and all....

:)
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby JNarelle » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:46 pm

Spring didn't spring at our place. Less than 25ml of rain in 7months :(
The ground is all cracked. I've lost a lot of my new plantings despite watering. We are on tankwater so i've only been watering enough to sustain life but the plants can't thrive on that.
I've given up the plan of installing fruit trees this year, due to the non appearance of the spring rain.
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Re: Is This Year Unusual?

Postby greg.l » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:38 am

It's funny, these things vary according to your district, but I found last summer much worse for growing vegetables, with all the cold weather and rain. Most summer vegies like lots of sun, but often they struggle with cool, damp weather.
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