News from the ‘Mews’ – February 2016

Welcome back to our first News from the Mews for 2016. I hope you all had a great festive season and managed to get some rest and relaxation in over the break!

The weather has been very changeable and the combination of hot windy days and below average rainfall has taken its toll on a few crops. Our beans were growing well, but with temperatures up around 40 degrees on several days, there was severe leaf burn, despite the use of shade cloth.

Aquaponics Update:

The hot days also caused problems for our aquaponics system as the tank water rose to 28 degrees! The trout were getting stressed and I had to harvest the remaining 10 fish at one time. On a positive note though, we have been enjoying some lovely fresh trout meals. With all the fish harvested, I’m running my system without fish at present, just as an experiment, supplementing with Seasol and iron chelate. So far, the plants are still thriving. I’ll consider re-stocking with trout again once the really hot weather is over. (When the weather impacts on your efforts to grow your own produce you get a greater appreciation for the farmers and primary producers who rely on their produce for their income!)

We’ve had great crops of sweet strawberries, which are growing well in the Aquaponics system – as a result I needed to rig up a mesh screen system to keeps the birds off them

summer gardening tips, strawberries

summer gardening tips, sweet corn

summer gardening tips, corn, sweet corn

Bee Update: 

Our bees have been very busy foraging and building honeycomb and last weekend we harvested 8.5 kg of golden honey! It tastes great and has a very aromatic flavour. This batch of honey is paler in colour than the last batch, but being a natural product, it is susceptible to seasonal variations and differences in the types of plants flowering at the time. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life!

homemade honey, bee keeping, summer gardening tips

Following on from last month, we are still raising seedlings in the greenhouse and also planting directly into our garden beds. Crops which have done well despite the hot weather include:

Δ   Spring onions
Δ   Tomatoes
Δ   Capsicum
Δ   Tuscan kale
Δ   Silverbeet
Δ  Beetroot
Δ  Pumpkins, and
Δ  Sweetcorn

summer-gardening-tips-cantaloupe

Summer Gardening Tips

This month I’d like to share some summer gardening tips with you to give your free produce the best chance at thriving during the warmer months!

  • Always use mulch over any bare soil as it keeps the soil and roots cooler, reduces evaporation and prevents water runoff when we do eventually get some rain.
  • Avoid watering during the heat of the day. Early morning or evenings are best. Apply water to the root zone, not the leaves, as this can cause leaf burn and promote mildew or fungal diseases.
  • Avoid planting or transplanting over summer as this is a stressful time for plants. If you must do it, aim for the cooler part of the day, water in well and provide some shade until the plant is established.
  • Use shade cloth to protect heat sensitive trees and shrubs from extreme direct sun.
  • If you need to work outside over summer, avoid the hottest part of the day. Wear sunscreen /protective clothing and keep hydrated.
  • If possible, have a birdbath or shallow container of water in a shady area of the garden. The native birds and insects will appreciate a drink!

Cheers, Pete

If you have any handy summer gardening tips you could share with us jot them down in the comments below!