Well if it’s one thing us farmers are known for it’s talking about the weather 🙂

Spring has officially arrived in the northern rivers, which for millenia was known by the indigenous tribes of this area as the hot, dry season. This means that we do not experience much rainfall at this time of the year.

I am often bemused by people who expect rainfall in the dry season..?? I find it interesting, that we can be sooo disconnected from the place and climate we live in…to the point that we assume that the weather patterns should accomodate us, whether we are a gardener, or a commercial grower.

Australian climates are categorised by drought and floods, and this is definitely the case in sub-tropical Byron Shire, rainfall is not evenly distributed throughout the year. In my climate, we receive the vast majority of rainfall in the first 6 months, with relatively little in the second half of the year, until storm season begins.

I was born in England, and grew up there, in the northern hemisphere, the climate is temperate, and entirely different. We have a wet spring, followed by a ‘hot’ dry summer, (relatively!). Contrast to Australia, we have a hot dry spring, and a hot summer with big storms.. So gardening, and farming in an Australian climate is completely different.

Many of our traditional summer fruiting crops, need to be planted in spring, so that they have the increasing daylight hours up until the summer equinox to germinate, grow, and come into fruiting.

The main crops that we grow to feed our population here in Australia, are for the vast majority, crops that are NOT native to Australia – and were brought out from England, Europe etc., and therefore not well adapted to dealing with our drought / flood climate, or our soil types.

This of course has all kinds of implications…one of the main ones, is the need to irrigate these crops in spring to ensure their successful germination and growth, as we cannot rely on significant rainfall at this time of year. This reliance on irrigation for non-native crops (due to their need to be planted in spring), has seen many of our large river systems, and undreground water reserves suffer immensely. The loss of these systems, throughout Australia, is having profound effects on our lands.

As Australian commercial growers, we are often experimenting with growing our crops at different times of the year, than in the lands where these food crops traditionally grow. We do this to find the times of year within our own climates that best mirror the conditions known to be successful for these plants. This becomes especially important when we consider that much of the fresh produce and fruit that is popular in the Australian cuisine, is not native here.

So, if you are filled with renewed enthusiasm for your gardens and veggie patches now we are at the beginning of spring… My advice is to water daily, any seedlings or seeds that you plant from now, to help them establish, and give you good harvests for the months to come.

From my heart to yours,

sheia x