Hot as Hades?

Spring in the Newstead Community GardenWe are into yet another heatwave (yes, school has returned…) Though perhaps it’s better defined as an evolving summer weather pattern? Probably not the time to be pedantic about semantics, when watering and care is badly needed. Funny though, that as we are paying extra attention to the garden and making sure it gets a drink and shade/shelter in these hot spells, some plants seem to be doing extra well. It goes back to photosynthesis again – C4 plants (responsible for about 25 percent of all photosynthesis on land, even though overall numbers are very small) have a specialized leaf structure and can separate transpiration (breathing/sweating) from photosynthesis (growing). They can also carry out “normal” photosynthesis, but especially thrive in bright, hot conditions when normal (C3) plants close their stomata and shut down. Corn and amaranth are C4 examples.190111_0057

Enough of the science. Heat loving plants, once they’ve got past germination and seedling stage, also thrive in fairly extreme conditions. Notice how well the zukes and pumpkins and capsicums are doing, even though they are close to wilting point at the height of the day? By next morning (if they’ve been given a good drink) they are perky again. Spuds and strawbs are not so resilient. Thanks to all our gardeners who are striving morning and night to keep the garden watered.

Early mornings and late evenings in February provide a time for us to take a breath, notice what’s going on in the garden and welcome the changing season.  It’s also time for action, when conditions permit. The February Notes are now posted. Don’t forget the Produce Exchange on Saturday (rhubarb, anyone?) and Thursday gardening, weather permitting.

Now is the time to be pruning stonefruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, etc) as well as apples and pears for fruit bearing next year. But if you have young pome trees (apple, pear, nashi), wait til winter – winter pruning is all about structure and developing a healthy, strong framework. Then start summer pruning after the third or fourth year and stick with it, unless you are making drastic changes to tree form or structure. We’ll be pruning ours on February 23 as part of the monthly garden session. I’m certainly no expert, but thanks to Simon Rickard and a Diggers Club workshop at St Erth, now have a bit more of an idea. If you have experience, please come along and share it!

3 thoughts on “Hot as Hades?

  1. Genevieve Barlow says:

    I picked a few China flat peaches from the tree near George’s patch on Wed and again this morning (Friday Jan 31). Delicious. When picking the first few I broke the stem off too but then I discovered a little twist is a lot gentler on the tree. My hunch is that picking them now is better than leaving them to completely ripen on the tree becasue they are cooking in the heat. What a shame that would be. They are so delicious.
    To anyone who came to the garden last evening to collect garlic, my apologies for not being there. My work kept me away until late into the evening, much later than I’d expected.We’ll see if it’s cool for gardening next Thursday and if so distribute then.

    • janet barker says:

      Yes, I remember from last year that those peaches are so beautiful – and so delicate (a reason you don’t find them in the shops, they’d never make it to the customer’s fruit bowl in one piece; lucky us). The fruit hug the branch on a very short stem. Scissors or secateurs might also do the job? Growing Abundance have some good tips for gentle fruit picking as well.
      Unlike pears,the China Flats won’t ripen off the tree, so try and pick the softest ones – avoid any hard or greenish fruit. Hopefully the birdnetting and lush foliage will shade the fruit a bit, perhaps another lace curtain might help over the next few days?

  2. margot brulotte says:

    Janet…in case you had not heard the Buddhist Relics are on at the town hall here in Daylseford on Sat and Sun or tonight at the opening at 5-7 tonight.

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