Friday, 14 December 2012

Shading seedlings from the hot summer sun!

I'm fairly new to the vege gardening thing - actually I'm fairly new to the almost successful vege gardening thing!

Back in NZ (as Ive said before) it was a darn sight easier to grow things. Here is Queensland, most seedlings have turned to dust by lunchtime. I grow wilted spinach - I don't have to wilt in in a pan in the kitchen. It arrives in the kitchen pre-wilted so to speak!

During spring, I had moderate success with lettuces, spring onions and parsley. There are some capsicums and aubergines that might just make it to maturity (fingers crossed, knock on wood) but as Summer is starting up with a fairly impressive 35 degrees over the weekend and we are all melting or are responsible for global warming by running 4 air conditioners, a fan or three and sitting in the fridge with the door open!

My baby lettuces and other bits and pieces just turned up their toes over the weekend and even the rhubarb and asparagus (that are both big plants but yet to produce something I can eat!) were definitely looking on the sad side.

I remember helping my grandad put cardboard covers over his lettuces in the morning after we watered them and the going back in the afternoon and taking them off again. I get that they need to be in the sun but certainly not at high noon, or the three hours either side of it at this time of the year. I'm not the "go and put teepee's on lettuce and take 'em off at the end of the day" type of girl so I had to come up with something else...

Here's what I did...

Because I have to fortify my garden against possums that visit thinking I'm growing a green buffet for them to dine at every evening - this is so much easier for me to do than for people with a conventional garden.

I have taken to putting fallen palm fronds across the top of the cages. This gives a filtered light all day without shading them out too much. It cuts the overhead hottest part of the day down by a watt or two and the plants seem to responding well to it. Although, if the days stay at 35 degrees for the next three months (we are only day eight into summer) its not going to work as eight hours of indirect heat will dry the plants out as much as a few hours of direct sunlight...

After surviving a round of white cabbage butterfly caterpillar attacks, my kale managed to live through the grasshopper assault but may not make it through the heat and a onslaught by a wierd looking caterpillar that not even the chookies will eat. I was so looking forward to trying kale after reading about it for so long....

In the meantime its mostly working for me!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for using found items in the backyard
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for not spending a cent on shade cloth
Time cost: Two to three minutes!
Skill level: There isn't one... really!
Fun -ness: More fun for the plants than me!

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