"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Winter muckies

We had exactly one week of beautiful weather. Perfect blue skies and cold. I love those days.
Now we have returned to the winter muckies as I call them. Foggy, piddly, windy and cold. Yesterday it remained as dark as nightfall all day keeping me huddled inside by the fire.
The local old timers tell me this is the result of having a very poor wet season- a long wet winter. We have a very specific micro climate here formed by a mixture of altitude, proximity to the mountain ridge and prevailing winds. This means we tend to get a lot more water than most other areas.
It also creates many challenges growing some things. Sometimes we just have to accept that we cannot have something we desire. Tomatoes for example. Growing good tomatoes is something of a passion of mine. However, our soils locally are infested with Fusarium fungus and this makes it near impossible to grow tomatoes to fruiting unless I grow them in pots of sterilized soil. Bananas likewise will thrive in our area although the majority of bunches do not ripen before the cold weather arrives each winter. Mangoes too will grow vigorously but never set a single fruit due to the rain destroying the flowers each year. If I go five kilometres over the hilltop I can see farms with mangoes and bananas fruiting heavily. On the plus side, we can grow green veg like no one else here. Our leeks are fat and healthy and last well into summer, our cabbage, carrots, kale and lettuce grow easily with little intervention from me and I grow the biggest and best snow peas of anyone in the district!
So my philosophy is to look for what will grow easily rather than try for what will not. When I try a new type of vegetable (or animal for that matter) I like to test several different varieties in the same year. This way I know that Nantes carrots and Yakumo snow peas are ideal for our area whereas Balinese sweet corn and Wiltshire horn sheep are not.
Now I will admit I am building a hot-house/green house thing over some of the veggie garden in an effort to improve the yield each year. This is mostly to stop the wet season rain beating the garden to death but it will also alter the micro climate of the veggie garden somewhat and hopefully give us a few more options in what we can grow.

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