Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Summer Crop Was A Bust

My food garden at the end of November, still struggling along
Happy New Year! This summer growing food was a complete bust. Between the heat, drought and water shortages, my garden is barely surviving.

It would be dangerous to spend any considerable time outdoors in the sun, when temperatures in my area range from late 30s to mid-40 degrees Celsius (around 100 to 113°F). [See the heatwave warning for this week: Temperatures Soar Close to 50°C]

Add that I can't even water the garden and it would just be a waste of time and resources.

It's tough though without my usual summer harvests. I preserved enough produce from last summer and winter harvests that we have some food we grew, but I also increased the proportion of the food we grow. It's a completely different mindset from what I started with and what I want, but for now, it can't be helped.

The impact of the drought on farmers and South Africa's food security is even bigger, of course.  See the footage below. To give some context, the Free State province is one of the country's major food producers. considered South Africa's "bread basket."

I can't and don't want to give up on my plan to grow a large proportion of our food and herbs.  So I'm doing a lot of research on growing food in a semi-desert (what to grow that we would eat, how to grow it etc). The key is growing plants that need minimal water using a method that retains soil moisture as long as possible.

I also need to consider investing in a tunnel or greenhouse for veggies we love but which wouldn't tolerate the heat waves very well. It would have to be fairly large though to accommodate my needs. All of that needs to happen at very little cost, reusing and recycling whatever I can get. The plan will also likely involve grey water and rain water harvesting; two things I've been meaning to do but never got round to. So ja, my whole gardening plan is changing in a big way.

In the short-term, I'll start planting in March, when it cools down and the Weather Service has forecast rain will resume. But I need to be smart about it. I can't keep doing what I've been doing because pretty soon Summer will be back and I'll have to face the same problems I'm dealing with this year.

Anyhoo, I hope you have a better gardening year.

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