While it is necessary to track the weather in all its vagaries, farm and garden activity cannot stop while we ponder the meaning of it all. In fact this unpredictability means as farmers and gardeners we need to be flexible as well as responsive. It means we are not only managing the present but also rethinking the planning for tomorrow.
This time of year is always a busy time in the garden, preparing beds, planting seed and seedlings. The Spring and Summer plantings are significant, with the majority of cold climate food production occurring during this period. The current warm weather makes it very tempting to move the timing of our Spring planting forward and this may be an option. However it is important to remember that this burst of warm weather does not mean the end of our frost season and the majority of Spring and summer plantings are incredibly frost tender. Potatoes are the hardiest and can be planted out over the next few weeks. We generally plant our first crop of potatoes in mid October. At this time of year, mid September, we are mainly doing seed raising of the summer fruits - chili, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers. In early October we start the pumpkins - not in the ground but in seed boxes.
Throughout August and September we have been planting out seedlings of brassicas (cabbages, broccoli, kale) lettuces, Asian greens, leeks, onions, chard/silver-beet, beetroot, coriander, spring onions, radicchio, endive, late season broad-bean. Soil temperatures have been very cold. Radish and Asian turnips seeds have been germinating well for at least the last 8 weeks, however the soil has only recently warmed enough for the germination of carrot and pea seeds.
Growing peas is always a challenge in our cold climate. We generally start planting peas at the beginning of August, but this year we have only had germination in the last 2 weeks as the soil has remained quite cool. We will continue planting shelling peas, sugar snap peas and then snow peas through to November. In November we start planting beans and sweet corn and commence the garlic harvest.
The main responsive issues given the current weather are: managing the watering; protecting vulnerable young plants from wind; mulching all the new plantings in preparation for the continuing dry weather, and on the rest of the farm, securing buckets, watering cans and all manner of farm and garden paraphernalia against the wild winds.
Importantly, stay strong...this dry windy weather won't last forever.
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm