It’s hard to keep the garden looking good and continuing to be productive through a long, dry summer without spending a bucketload of money on water. And we all want to avoid that if possible.
Just as with all our home gardens, it’s looking pretty dry out at Tucker Patch at the moment, but fortunately the permaculture methods our volunteers use to protect precious plantings go a long way to minimising the impacts of drought.
With no certain end to this dry spell in sight, this is a time when deep mulching and clever watering systems really come into their own. And there are plenty of other ways to minimize your water use and keep your garden flourishing through the hot, dry weather, without breaking the bank.
Winter tends to be the quietest time of the year in the garden, but at Tucker Patch our group of gardening volunteers have been busy as bees, clearing out old beds, weeding and mulching in the Food Forest, and planting new-season veg in our extensive and ever-expanding market garden.
Thanks to these dedicated volunteers, the gardens are flourishing, jam-packed with healthy citrus trees, salad vegies, herbs, and winter veg such as broccoli, onions, leeks and more, and strawberry plants coming along nicely.
Three types of onions growing in the market garden
.The gardens just keep getting bigger and better, with plans to keep extending and creating new beds that volunteers can use to grow their own food, either just for themselves and/or family, or to sell at our Farmgate Stall on a Friday.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Volunteer Program, helping in the gardens and learning about organic and permaculture growing methods, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0484 001 390
Part of the Food Forest after extensive weeding and mulching.
While spring is just around the corner, and days have been mostly warm and sunny, the danger of frost is never far away. Here are some tips to protect your plants:
• Water the garden thoroughly before nightfall. The soil will release moisture into the air around your plants during the night, keep the air warmer.
• Even a slight breeze will prevent cold air from settling near the ground during the night. You can help keep frost from forming by building breezeways.
• Cover up before dusk! By the time it gets dark much of the stored heat in the garden has already been lost. Try building a simple frame around your plants – even a single stake may do – then drape a cover of newspaper, cardboard, plastic tarp, bed sheeting or any other lightweight material over the frame to create a tent. Remove in the morning, once the frost has thawed, to let the light and fresh air back in, and prevent overheating by the sun.
• For smaller, individual plants you can use glass jars, milk jugs with the bottom removed, paper cups and upside-down flower pots as heat traps. Don’t forget to remove these covers in the morning.
• Collect heat during the day by painting plastic milk jugs black, filling them with water and placing them around your plants. The collected heat will radiate out throughout the night.
• Potted plants are particularly susceptible to frosts because the roots are also unprotected. If you are unable to move your container plants indoors or under cover wrap the pot in burlap or bubble wrap, or simply bury it in soil, in addition to protecting the foliage.
• Create heat sinks in the garden, such as gravel beds and ponds.
• Rake mulch away from plant roots in winter to maximise the heat that can be absorbed during the day and radiated at night.
You may be surprised to learn that frost has some benefits too! It can check rodent populations, help prevent the spread of cane toads, kill some undesirable weeds, break the breeding cycle of pests such as fruit fly, help kill pathogenic fungal spores, limiting reinfection, and improve soil.
August is a great time to sow: globe artichoke, jerusalem artichoke, broad beans, beetroot, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, capsicum (use a heat mat), celery, choko, kale, lettuce, onions, spring onions, parsnip, climbing peas, dwarf peas, potatoes, radish, rhubarb (crown), silverbeet, spinach and tomatoes (indoors).