I have been reading Eliot Coleman's "Four-Season Harvest" which is packed with details on how to make the most of every season, for the vegetable grower in a cool - cold climate. Tasmania is certainly colder than South Australia, but nowhere near as cold as Maine, northeast USA, where Eliot has his organic market garden, producing vegetables year round, without any heating.
One of the things he suggests to protect a cloche from wind damage is to zigzag across the sections with wire. Well, I have a tall clump of miscanthus, which is like a tall, thin bamboo and very flexible, so I experimented with that. Seems good so far!
This next idea was mine alone! It seemed crazy to me to be standing in my little glass house watering plants with a hose when its pouring with rain outside so I rigged up a self-watering system for directing rain onto the soil inside, while its raining outside.
I poked a hole in the sagging plastic roof, inserted a hose connector from the outside (the bit you screw onto the tap, normally), connected a piece of poly tube to the inside via a click-on hose fitting and tied the tube to a stake. What happens next is still uncertain but at the moment that tube goes into a watering can whose spout I point towards whatever needs watering most. Eventually I want to have a perforated tube running the length of the small bed so everything gets watered at once. If this all works, I could have several of these in the glass house which would be so wonderful.
The third idea for the month of May was to do something useful with the runoff from a downpipe. A previous owner had directed the runoff into a rather lovely, rock edged and stone-lined soak, making this a very wet area all year round..... as the rain here falls in frequent, small amounts even in summer. Although some winters, like 2009, it can rain solidly for months!
So, with great difficulty, under the downpipe I placed a very large, flat piece of concrete I found elsewhere and around it I planted watercress given to me by a friend. Whether this survives winter frosts and rain we will have to wait and see but it seemed like a good idea at the time!
Raising seedlings in some kind of shelter certainly helps things along, as these 5 kinds of beetroot seeds keep germinating in the poly house even with sub-zero overnight temperatures. Interestingly, the yellow and golden varieties came up days before the others, and the white seeds are yet to germinate at all. There are big holes in the walls and the roof is unfortunately well ventilated too, but it is pleasant in there and takes the chill off.
Other vegetables doing remarkably well under cover include this incredible tomato plant which still has plenty of tomatoes ripening in the glass house, when the rest of the varieties have stopped. I have saved seeds from this one! I hope its not a hybrid. It has a walnut-sized fruit with an intense tomato flavour. The skins are starting to toughen now but hey, that's a small price to pay for a great tasting tomato almost in June.
The bok choy is so elegant I can't bring myself to eat it but I am hoeing into the mustard greens.
One chook has started laying.... 5 to go!!
So, there's a snap shot of May at my place. Nice.... very nice.