Top 5 – Summer Frustrations

Summer finishes here on the 28th of February although you wouldn’t know it if you ventured outside.  The last few days have been hot and the forecast going forward is for a week of 30C/86F plus days.  As I look out the window there isn’t even a cloud in sight let alone any rain.  Which gives you something of a taste of what one of my summer frustrations might be.

Now don’t get me wrong I’ve really enjoyed our summer this year.  I like the heat, not so much to garden in, but to ensure you really know it’s summer.  I like being able to go to the outdoor pool and I like having a few of those nights where sleeping is made almost impossible by the close heavy warm air.  I like being able to go camping and not have to take 23 jumpers to keep warm.  Most of all I like the feeling of discreet seasons – where summer is hot and winter is cold (ok so my version of cold isn’t really that cold but still…..) and Spring and Autumn are a little bit of both.  I will write a Top 5 next week about what I enjoyed most this summer from a kitchen gardening perspective but this week I’m going to have a whinge.  (I find us Australian’s are particularly good whingers – in fact I know more than one person who has turned the practice into an art form, why we call the Poms whingers I don’t know…..)  Anyway enough of the preamble these are my Top 5 frustrations from this summer.

  1. Rodents – Now I have written on this ad infinitum so rather than repeat myself I suggest that people unfamiliar with my battles against rats check out the posts here and here.  One new noteworthy thing in the anti rat campaign is that my parents bought me a rat zapper at the Seymour Farming Expo.  So far it hasn’t caught a rat but there is one mouse less in the world.
  2. No rain – We have had our driest summer in decades this year.  This despite having had around 40mm in the past week.  Before that 40mm it was dry, really dry.  In December we had 19.60mm, in January it was just 3.6mm and last month we got a much more respectable 76mm.  (These figures are for Coburg as detailed on the Melbourne Water website).  The lack of rain has presented gardening challenges, not least having to water almost everyday, mostly from the city’s water storages as my tank ran out in late December and didn’t refill until recently.
  3. Kinked hoses – All this watering has meant I’m becoming intimately acquainted with my hoses and I can’t say I particularly pleased with them.  This is mainly due to their tendency to kink.  I had one kink so badly it became completely unusable and so I went to one of the DIY superstores today to replace it.  Could anyone tell me how on earth I was supposed to choose a hose?  There was a ridiculously large range at the shop I went to.  All of them cited exciting points of difference on their packaging –  things like kink ratings etc etc.  Now normally I would buy the second cheapest (well that’s what I do with wine at licensed restaurants) but the second cheapest was clearly going to kink somewhere between shelf and checkout so I quickly discounted it.  In the end I bought a Nylex Kinkaway which scores 8 (out of 10) on their Kink Resistance scale.  It wasn’t particularly cheap but it wasn’t the most expensive either.  I got it home and unpacked it and then tried to wind it round my hose tidy thingy.  I eventually (apologies to the neighbours for all the swearing) managed to untangle it and wind it up.  I then turned it on.  No water.  The damn thing had kinked about 5 times during the process of winding it onto the tidy.  It is now spread out around the garden awaiting little (or big) feet to trip over it but at least it is kink free.  For now….
  4. Beefsteak Tomatoes – I’m sure I planted one.  I’m sure the plant grew, at least for awhile.  I have been anxiously awaiting tomatoes but so far nothing, nada.  Actually that is an exaggeration there is one very green one on the vine now.  One.  One tomato from a perfectly good plant.  Now I could put this down to the rodents but actually I think it’s the plant.  Beefsteak are generally pretty late which should have meant they would have been spared the worst of the rampaging rodents.  What they should be doing is giving me tomatoes now while the other earlier varieties wind down and finish.  But are they?  No, the plant is just sitting there looking as brown and dead as the rest.
  5. Whitefly – This last one isn’t really an issue anymore but it was in early Summer.  In late Spring Melbourne was hit by something of a whitefly plague and they covered everything.  From my experiences with them (and from reading about veggiegobblers vacuuming attempts) I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t really much you can do to get rid of whitefly.  The key is to ensure the plants are healthy and vigorous enough to both; resist and recover from their attacks.  Our summer got hot and dry enough to kill most of them off in the end.  It is nice that they’ve pretty much gone as inhaling them while you water isn’t really ideal…..

Those were the things that irritated me this summer.  What about you?  Anything drive you to distraction?   Next week I promise to be much more upbeat with the Kitchen Garden Things I enjoyed most about Summer this year.

This entry was posted in Top 5. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Top 5 – Summer Frustrations

  1. Norma Chang says:

    Numbers 2, 3 and 5 were my problem last year, will see what this year brings.

  2. Daphne says:

    Heat would always be on my list. As would vacations. I hate leaving the garden for vacations even if I love my vacations. I’m so torn with them.

  3. Michelle says:

    Oh I do know your rodent pain and you have my deepest sympathy. Fortunately, they gave me a break for summer of 2012. We’ll see what summer of 2013 brings.

    And I’m also well acquainted with the frustrations of kinked hoses, it really ticks me off when the new “kink free” hose kinks the first time it’s used. And I noticed a new frustration with my latest new hose – it shrank, it is not long enough to reach the places that it first did when it was new and never did reach the spots that the old hose did (which was supposedly the same length). Be happy that you don’t have to add the frustrations of a drip system. Your dry summer would count as a wet one here so it would be impossible for me to keep a garden going without a drip system (and our own well) – talk about a major pain in the you-know-what. Actually, I’m not complaining about a dry summer, I’m well accustomed to it and rely on the fact that I can do any outdoor activity without worrying about rain for at least three months. But I will whinge about the heat, or really the lack of it, we don’t get much until the calendar declares that it is practically autumn. It’s a good thing that I love spring vegetables, I can grow them for nearly 6 months. And I suppose that if it was both hot and dry that I would be living in a desert, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Well, there’s one other thing I appreciate about the lack of heat, it makes for perfect hiking weather.

    Whew, that felt good, everyone should have a little whinge fest once in a while!

    • Liz says:

      6 months of Spring would be kind of pleasant – Although i think i would spend all of it impatiently waiting for summer to arrive. Wow 3 months of almost no rain that would be hard on the garden. I did have a drip system set up a couple of years back but I find it really hard to arrange the hoses so that everything gets covered.

      • Michelle says:

        Come July and August you will hear plenty of whinging from me while I watch other northern hemisphere gardeners harvest tomatoes while mine pout in the never ending (seemingly) cool weather that passes for summer here. I need all the patience I can muster then.

  4. How about having far far too much rain! Whiteflies are a real nuisance and seem weather resistant. I’ve even had them doing breast stroke when trying to have a drink of coffee. It’s strange as in the vegetable free garden they aren’t an issue – oh why did I say that?

    • Liz says:

      I don’t think whitefly in the coffee would be too pleasant. Far far too much of anything is always too much. For us its starting to be sun…can’t believe I’ve saying this but the occasional cloud would be welcome.

  5. Oh I am so hearing you on all of the above. In fact I had to control myself from using the caps lock when writing that. But I have some good news for you – I seem to have beaten the whiteflies. Gosh I just realised I should have blogged about this and let you all know. Instead I just forgot about it and started whinging about the other things going wrong in my garden. I really must be Australian! Anyway, I found that for a couple of weeks I sprayed eco oil and then a few days later neem oil and repeated that a few times … and they are gone!!! Yep gone. It may be that they have died along with everything else from the heat but I think I have mostly beaten them. I haven’t seen them all January.
    Also, I discovered a plastic boxy thing at the big barn hardware for rodents. You put poison blocks inside it and it is advertised as being pet safe. So I bought one and have put it in my laundry to kill the rats that ate right through the hard plastic box holding the dry dog food. Those rotten rats have even eaten through that gap filler foamy spray stuff you use to plug up the holes around the water outlets in the walls! We also have resorted to putting poison blocks in the roof and down the walls and that has stopped the scrambling noises. For your outdoor rodent problem I have also heard of poison that come in some sort of container that you can hammer to the fences and kill the rats that way. Have you seen rats running along the fences? I have and it gave me a fright. I hate the things.

    • Liz says:

      I have a couple of those boxes to put poison in but so far nothing has ventured inside or if they have they have yet to do anything useful like eat bait. My partner saw three running along our back fence today so we have put the zapper up there in the hope it will work. Great tip on the whitefly – I will try that next year.

  6. Sarah says:

    I’m with you on the kinks in hoses – you’d think in a world with the technical knowledge to create the internet and space travel, someone could come up with a workable kink-free hose!

  7. KL says:

    Oh Dear! very frustrating ones those that are listed. That’s one big drawback with gardening and farming, especially in this era of climate change – one never knows how everything is going to be. And, it can be so depressing and sad. How do you ensure that your plants are strong and healthy? I need to learn from you all. I am yet to face anything as I am a novice gardener.

    • Liz says:

      Strong and healthy I think is all in the way you prepare the soil. Lots of organic matter and the right amount of food seem to be key. that and the right amount of water – mulching is invaluable in this respect. After that I think it up to nature to give them enough sun and warmth (but not too much) for them to thrive.

  8. Louise says:

    Now I don’t mean to laugh, but I did laugh out loud. It was the kinked hose that did it. It’s only because I know your pain.

    This summer my frustrations would be ( and in order):
    1. No soil
    2. No water
    3. Extreme temperatures
    4. Wallabies
    5. Tip nippers

  9. bumblelush says:

    Sorry to hear about your rodent issues. Hope the zapper works. What an aggravation! I feel your pain on the beefsteak tomatoes. I had bad luck with tomatoes last summer as well. I hope this year is better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *