It's gettin' hot in here...

31 December, 2015

Today in Melbourne its due to hit over 40 degrees C (around 107 Fahrenheit). Knowing from past experience that the garden does not do well on these very hot days, I was determined to protect the crop as best I could.

In preparation for the hottest months of the year I had mulched the garden well with copious amounts of lucerne mulch earlier in the week and had been deep watering once or twice a week to encourage the plants in the ground do develop deep root systems, but with our very strong Australian sun I knew that a super hot day plus a very high UV index would mean the plants were going to be scorched.

Luckily for the backyard wicking bed veg patch, I happened to have a 5m x 5m shadecloth hand, which I strung up to cover the majority of the main veg crops including corn, cucumbers, rockmelons, tomatoes, eggplants and beans.

Unfortunately this was my only proper shadecloth. What to do now? Well, use anything I could get my hands on. This mainly consisted of old sheets and tablecloths.

These were strung up over the front yard (normally planted, i.e. in the ground) tomatoes ...

... and over the cucumbers and self sown rockmelon (with extra shading on the side which gets the afternoon sun which does the most damage ...

... and over the blueberries in the fruit cage, which is looking empty because I moved most of the fruit trees in wicking buckets to the orchard ...

... while it doesn't look too shady now the trees over the fence give afternoon shade, so these should be a little more protected than in the fruit cage which gets full sun ...

... and also in the orchard the espaliered apples got the sheet treatment too ...

... as well as this apple tree here.

Hopefully this will mean relatively little sun damage. I'll check in shortly with an update on how the garden fared. For now I'm inside to sit in front of the air con for the rest of the day.


  1. I've realised that provision for shade in summer is imperative now. I'm going to spend the winter installing proper shade supports for all my veggie growing areas. This will have the added bonus of being able to support nets for any wildlife predation as well. After seeing your efforts, now I know what to do with old sheets! I'll be searching out old lace curtains from wherever, too.

    1. I totally agree. Very true that any structural support will be useful for both shad and protection - integrate tick. The old sheets worked totally fine, and a good use of what would otherwise be only good for rags. But I can't throw them out because of the gorgeous vintage patterns, despite the fact I will never use them for their intended purposes.

  2. Very ingenious shading solutions - you really do care for your plants well.
    We certainly have had a few heatwave days.
    I have some burn marks on my beans and even pumpkin leaves.
    My leafy greens have permanent shade frames.
    My sweetcorn seems to be very heat tolerant.
    I personally think that spraying with water several times during the hottest part of heatwave days helps tremendously.
    But I guess water restrictions and being at home my be a problem for some.

    1. Cheers! I try and look after them as best I can, especially when I'm intending to eat their produce ;)
      I'm sure these crazy hot days are only going to be more common and hotter, so some adaptive strategies are needed. I tend to plant leafy greens in naturally shady places, so those mostly are ok. My sweet corn always got very dried out on hot days when planted in the ground, but seems to be absolutely loving the wicking beds.
      I see how water spraying would work for plants, much like a day at the beach works for us, but yes water restrictions and availability are limitations. Either way as long as the plants survive relatively unscathed I'm happy.

  3. Your summers aren't always so hot, are they? It sounds awful. The shade cloth is a great idea. Good luck and I hope it cools off!

    1. Yes, they are. Our summer months frequently have days over 40 degrees (one memorable time recently when we had 4 days is a row over 40 degrees!) and are often in the 35+ temps, so we have to be able to manage them.
      And given we are closer to the ozone hole we get a stronger sun than the northern hemisphere (or at least that's what I've read its due to) so plants (and people) are more likely to get burnt.