I think I broke the drought!

We haven’t had any rain in absolutely ages.  In January we had 40mm of rain and while it felt like it was a wet and miserable summer only 10 rainy days were actually wet and most of it came from one day that had 23mm.  February had 20 days without a drop and the other 8 days shared out 11mm between them!  March wasn’t much better.  We had  a weeks’ worth of days with rain giving us  25mm of rain, however 14mm of that came from a tropical cyclone that wasn’t worthy of the name!   April has only had one wet day … until now.  And even that wasn’t much.

his is a common sight across our parched land.

This is a common sight across our parched land.

Essentially, what I am trying to say is – it has been very dry.  Most farmers would love for it to be declared a drought so they can have their struggles this summer financially acknowledged.  I have great cracks opening up in my ground.  Keeping the plants happy and healthy has been a real effort. Although it has been lovely to bask in the late warmth of an autumn reluctant to cool down.

So I decided to do something yesterday that I didn’t realise would make me single-handedly responsible for breaking the drought.  I had all my winter seedlings sitting on a shelf waiting to go into the ground.  But it was so dry, that I wasn’t sure they would get the best start.  Then I remembered the hydroponic system I had been given by a wonderful friend in the spring.  I had been so busy with writing the book that I didn’t find the time to use it over the summer. There it was sitting in the greenhouse, and what better way to grow plants in a drought but to have cooling water running constantly through their roots!

My drought breaker - I should have got it out weeks ago!

My drought breaker – I should have got it out weeks ago!

I’ve never used a hydroponic system before, so I stretched my memory back to the advice I was given back in the spring and with the instructions on the nutrient bottles I prepared the water.  The advice was clear about making sure the pH was around 6, and most veggies like to grow in the 6 -7 pH range.  Having mixed in the chemicals it was impossible to tell by looking if it was ok.  I tried to think of ways to figure out how to tell if it was just right.  I did see something on the internet once about using beetroot as a pH indicator, but that would require a load of pfaffing about.  Then I remembered Hubby the Un-Gardener had some indicator test strips to test the quality of the water in the swimming pool and conveniently there was a pH indicator in the right range for my water.  And best of all – I had it spot on.  Hubby the Un-Gardener no longer has test strips for the swimming pool, however I have a lovely set of hydroponic test strips in my garden shed!

Once I got the water sorted and had it running through the system, sounding like a relaxing water feature but looking a little utilitarian, I turned to my seedlings.   I had being so smug in having my brassicas safe from the white cabbage butterfly, secured under their cake net cover, that I wasn’t looking at them as closely as I should have.  I mean what harm could come to them under there?

blergk!

blergk!

What I hadn’t counted on was APHIDS!  Loads of the little buggers!  So I gave my brassicas a good wash – a kind of luxury spa treatment.  I started out with a power shower with a blast with the hose which dislodged most of the bugs, then I submerged them in a bucket of water and massaged the leaves to remove any hangers on.  Then left them to soak in a clean bucket in the hopes of drowning any stubborn ones.  I have to say those aphids are a determined bunch, as after all of that, deep in the crevices there were still some tenacious insects still clinging on.  I had no choice and I whipped up a batch of pyrethrum.  I’m not growing these brassicas to be insect fodder!

After basking in the warm sun for a while the brassicas perked up and were looking a lot better, so I did what seemed to go against all best practise for treating tender wee seedlings.  I washed off all the lovely rich soil from around the roots and popped them in to the little pots and held them in place with tiny rocks and put them in their new home – in a plastic channel.

The roots gently nestled amongst the rocks

The roots gently nestled amongst the rocks

I was feeling quite pleased with myself as I packed up for the day  – with all that water running past their roots I shouldn’t have to worry about them coping in a drought, although I will increase the pest watch – a lesson has been learnt there – don’t be complacent.

Sadly this welcome rain isn't enough to revive the tomatoes - they are on the way out anyway!

Sadly this welcome rain isn’t enough to revive the tomatoes – they are on the way out anyway!

And I wake up this morning and what do I see? – rain!  Not a deep heavy rain, but that annoying misty stuff so I checked out the ten day forecast – the heavy rain should be with us later in the week!  The drought has broken.   Just think – had I not set up my hydroponic system then this much needed rain may not have come for days or even weeks!

And here come the warm autumn rains

And here come the warm autumn rains

Come again soon – I shall have find my raincoat and do some wet weather gardening!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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12 Comments on “I think I broke the drought!

    • Hi Julie. For some reason, this year there hasn’t been much of a pest invasion and so I was feeling quite confident about it all. It is a timely reminder for me to keep my eye on the ball and do a regular pest watch, as they can sneak in from unexpected places and wreak havoc!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  1. Lol, all hail the rain maker 🙂 😉

    I reckon this summer is going to be a bumper pest year because we haven’t had the really cold winter weather needed to curtail them. Hopefully the ladybirds and their cohorts will be out in force too but you just know the bad bugs will have fared better than the good ones.

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    • HI Elaine. Gosh it rained so hard yesterday I thought we were going to have one of those flash floods! There was thunder and lightening and it was rain like we hadn’t seen in months! But the garden seemed to love it!

      There was a report in one of our papers saying that pest control companies were having a huge increase in their work as the last mild winter had increased populations to pest proportions. But strangely in the garden they were hardly any until the very end of the season. I hope bad bugs stay clear of your veggies this season.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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    • Thanks Alys.
      I wonder if there is a nomination committee for things like this. I can imagine it now – an award ceremony at government house and all the dignitaries and major newspapers there. “Oh my goodness – did you see her – she’s the one that broke the drought!!!”
      hehehe
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  2. Now you know the secret you can replicate it next year 😉 (secretly Alys and I are going to set up our own hydroponic systems in the hope that we can break the drought in our own little patches of earth 😉 )

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    • Hi Fran, we are looking like having a really wet and miserable Easter, so we shall have to stay tucked up inside. I was hoping to do a bit of gardening. Maybe I need to figure out what turns the rain off!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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      • I think we should all be dancing around singing halleluiah as this rain is wonderful :). By the end of the season I will be muttering along with everyone else but I am still on the cusp of a long dry summer and the garden is singing rains praises and it’s wonderful 🙂

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        • I think it definitely needs a tap – so we can turn it on and off at will. Maybe set so it only rains at night, so we can still be productive in daylight. We have only had rain on and off for a week and it is really beginning to lose it’s wonderfulness. It may also have something to do with not having a kitchen and having to cook outside!
          Have a fabulous day!
          Cheers Sarah : o )

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          • Everyone that I know is renovating their kitchens all over the world! Is there something I am missing?! Good luck with the reno and we are lucky here in that for some very strange reason, it usually rains after about 10am here. It pours down overnight, stops at about 5am and then starts again at 10 so we get time to walk the dog and do whatever we have to do in the garden and pretty much by the clock at 10am it’s raining again so I guess we do have a sort of “tap” here 😉

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