We are in the middle of summer here in New Zealand – 1st Feb 2013.
This year we really are actually having summer, the first decent one for decades. This is the kind of summer I grew up in, 3 months of heat, well, we have had 3 weeks of it so far. Actually we are doing it hard this year. It’s the first time with out air conditioning for me and I am struggling. The last few days have been in the low 30C and nights have been high teens or higher.
Despite being unconditioned for such heat, it is wonderful, but also destructive. Each day there is a news item of spontaneous fires around the region, controlled crop debris burns going astray and farm vehicles and harvesters overheating and igniting. It is very dry, dangerously dry and there is a complete fire ban over the region.
At the moment my daughter is living in San Diego and says they are having an unexpectedly cold winter. I have a very good friend living in Canada who is also struggling with coldest temperatures for years. Our weather has and is certainly changing, no matter what the experts say.
It is a regular evening job for me to water the vegetable gardens. I am doing this with the hand-held hose as I am unsure if we have hosing restrictions yet. (note to self to find out). It will be strange if we are as it’s a long time since I have had to rely on town water supply, I am used to pumping water from the ground on demand. It is far to hot to garden during the heat of the day here so I wait till after tea to do this.
I had to quickly construct a make shift shade house over my (very late) peppers, chillies, melons, cucumbers and the late/early variety of heirloom tomatoes called Sub Arctic Plenty transplanted last night. They had been in the shade under trees waiting to be transplanted and I was scared the wee darlings would curl up and die. I used my propagation tunnel hoops and this is what I did –
This worked well for the 3 or so days until we got the shade cloth cover made.
I have used metal arches that have a sprung wire fitted over them . This wire locks into the base of the hoops to hold the shade cloth in place. It can be slid up or down to regulate the amount of cover. I can replace this with frost cloth, a full plastic cover or bird netting according t the seasons and pests.
The Sub Arctic Plenty tomato is meant to be able to cope with autumn conditions out in the open, but my plan is to make a plastic cover to fully enclose this garden before we get frosts. I am also going to try planting some early winter and see just how hardy they are here under cover. Will keep you posted as to how they go.