Trying to beat the heat in the patch...

Posted January 6th, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

Saving plants from the heat…
With the heatwave that some parts of Australia have had & others will soon face, I thought I might share with you how we are trying to minimize it's affects on the plants in our patch..
We are expecting 6 days of 35-40°C temps (maybe more) so hopefully the wicking beds will provide enough moisture to keep most of our plants well hydrated.. We do have a number of plants in pots, some are irrigated using Wetpots, while others are relying on us to keep the water up to them on a regular basis.. All of these will be feeling the sting from the heat so, in an attempt to keep some water up to them, I have placed a few in trays.. Keeping pots in trays with a centimetre or 2 of water in the bottom is a great way to ensure that the plants have access to water.. It is best that they are not left in direct sunlight though as it won't take long for the water to evaporate out..
All our potted plants will be getting a small watering every morning before the heat sets in.. The wicking beds will be filled Monday afternoon (last 30°c day) & the beds will get a bit of a hosing so the mulch can soak up some moisture as well.. They will be checked again on Wednesday & Friday evenings to see if they need a top up.. Some valued plants will be given a spot water if need be but I am prepared to lose a few of the older or poor performing ones.. My biggest concern will be the seedlings that I am nurturing in the trays..
While I think the plants going into the aquaponics will do OK, I think I have left it a bit too late to plant the others out.. I will just keep the water up in the tray & hope they survive..
One idea that might help vulnerable plants is the use of a plastic bottle with a small pin size hole in the base..
The water will slowly drip out ensuring that the plants around it receive a little bit of moisture during the day.. I have seen bottles like these at the local community garden used to keep potato plants moist during times of extreme heat..
Shade is something that will also help your plants survive the heat.. We are lucky in that we have the shade house but it isn't doing the best it could in some areas..
The capsicums under the 30% cloth are already showing signs of "sunburn" so we will be adding some 50% cloth over the top just to make sure we don't lose any more..
There are a few different ways I can think of that might help to shade plants using things you may have on hand.. A portable pergola would make a fantastic shade structure that could be situated over a garden bed or 2.. A sheet tied to a few stakes or side of a building would make a great cover for plants.. An outdoor table (If it is glass, lay a cloth over the top) or even outdoor chairs would be good enough to give vulnerable short plants a bit of cover from the harsh sun.. Moving pots under the eaves of the house, a large tree or veranda would also decrease the plants stress levels.. I hope that may give a few ideas on how to help plants withstand the heat over the coming week..

Chilli paste from the patch…
We have managed to save all the chilli crop from the fruit fly this year (does a joyful jig) so I decided that the first lot would be used to make up an Asian style chilli paste.. Most of the ingredients came from our patch with the galangal, lemongrass, lime rind & leaves all being stored in the freezer form the last harvests.. Only the coconut vinegar & sugar came from the shops : )»
I must also thank Joy for sharing her recipe with me... While I didn't follow it to the "T" I used it as a portion guide...

Sambal Oelek...
500g chillies
300g galangal (ginger would work just as well)
300g garlic
4 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
2tbsp of grated lime skin
small hand full of Kaffir lime leaves
350ml coconut vinegar
200g rapadura sugar

All ingredients except for the sugar & vinegar were added to the food processor.
The vinegar was slowly added while processing on high until all ingredients become a paste.
The paste was then brought to the boil in a saucepan.
Sugar was then poured in slowly & stirred until it was dissolved then the heat was reduced & the paste let simmer for 5 minutes.
This made enough to fill 3 sterilised pint/500ml jars, 2 of which were added to a hot water bath for 10 minutes so they could be stored for later use or used as gifts for friends..
I must say that I was very pleased with the flavour & I am still hanging out to try it with some locally farmed black tiger prawns.. I my Asian Curries : )»

This week's Harvests…
I must say that this week has been a tad slim on the harvests yet again..
A lot of the leafy greens have either gone to seed or been decimated by the mini grasshoppers that appear to have called our garden home for the rest of the summer : (»
The remaining Baby Bear pumpkins were harvested as well as 6 cucumbers, the odd bean & a few hand fulls of yellow & mini Roma tomatoes.. As far as the Baby Bear pumpkins go, while we will be saving seeds to share, I don't think we will be growing them again next season.. I was expecting sweet little fruit but these just didn't live up to expectation… Might stick with the Kent pumpkins next year methinks..

We have another lot of chillies ready to harvest before the heat sets in here.. I am thinking I will use some vodka to make up some straight chilli paste that can be stored in the fridge..

The Kaffir lime has set quite a few fruit too.. These will be harvested this week & the skins grated then frozen for future dishes..

The strawberries have set the last fruit for the season & started to throw out loads of runners.. I will be taking advantage of the forming runners & trying to pot some up for friends who would like some.. We have been losing a few berries during the early evening to a pest & it had us puzzled for a while until we caught the beastie
in the act the other night..

Well that's about it for this week me thinks..
I would like to wish all the members of SS & their families a very frugal & productive year ahead..

I would also like to wish those who have been affected by the fires in Tasmania all the best.. After seeing first hand the floods that decimated many parts of Australia 2 years ago I can understand the loss that people must be feeling & hope that we can all help where we can..

Hope you all have a great one & stay cool..
: )»

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