It is the end of autumn for us here in the southern hemisphere and winter is just around the corner. I believe I have just harvested the last of the zucchini for this season. It is amazing though that I am still getting zucchini this late into the season. Another late crop is chilli, and they are still ripening in the backyard. And I am still getting a reasonable harvest of basil. In my five years of growing food in Melbourne, basil at the end of May is most rare.
The weather has been unusual this year. Many of my Italian neighbours, who have been growing food since they first arrived 50 years ago, have been complaining about how affected their backyards have been by the weather. They are not getting as much crop as they used to and in some backyards none at all.
This year summer has been exceptionally hot and dry. Regardless my backyard has been productive: just over 142kg worth of food in the last six months. The only difference between my backyard and that of my neighbours is mulching. I use organic pea, Lucerne and sugarcane mulch and I believe it kept my backyard going and survived the hot dry summer.
As usual my most productive is zucchini, more than 46kg for the year followed by tomato and pumpkin at just over 26kg and 21kg respectively. The rest 49kg are made up of leafy greens, tubers, fruits and herbs. I tried to grow potato in old tyres but the location was not ideal and I had to move the tyres to another location but the potato plants did not survive the move. They are now beginning to take off. It has been fun watching the backyard grow and adapt over the last six months.
So get out there in your backyard and grow some food. And MULCH! MULCH! MULCH!
- A Gardener’s Guide to Mulching: Benefits of Mulch (gardening.answers.com)
- Gardening Sustainability in your own Backyard (tomatotales.com.au)