08 February 2009

Death Grip

Drought continues. Fruit trees are losing their leaves in mid-Summer, not bothering to wait for the Autumn. I think (hope!) there's another week's water in the dam, and hope further that some rain falls before it is exhausted. And would that be enough rain? I doubt it.

Frightening times. Already I've written-off all the easily-replanted crops -- lettuce, (whether for seed or for eating) beet, swiss-chard, the Tomatillos, green-beans, Squashes,... they're all toast. Or at least left to fend for themselves. A hardy few survive... the Swiss Chard in particular comes up as champ in the survival stakes: Abandoned as just-emerged seedlings, they grow on, cheerfully green despite the dry.

The remaining irrigation water is reserved for the well-established high-value crops: the Tomatoes and Chillis. At that, they've been reduced to water every 5 days. It's not enough, but it keeps them going. So far. I've gone so far as to use the waste-water from the washing machine... being careful to use clean water in between... but it's desperation times, here! At least we use a "green", "micro" washing powder (though who can trust the claims made for it?) and tiny quantities of it, since our clothes are seldom dirty beyond a little sweat and dust.

Kale, wilted and stressed.Whilst England gets smothered in snow... Whilst southern Australia roasts and burns... Whilst the rest of South Africa drowns in too much rain... we're dry. Dry, dry, dry.

Our house-water supply is still OK -- the water tanks are at about -4000litres (out of 15kl total.) At our normal rate of water-use we'll be the last family left in the region... but the ground is parched beyond anything we've seen in 13+ years here. Even the ever-hardy Kale is struggling!

Update -- Sunday morning: Unbelievable! Rain! a whole 12mm last night in a spectacular thunderstorm. Completely unpredicted by the SA Weather Service, but welcome nonetheless. This morning the top 3 or 4cm of the soil is moist, but below that is still bone dry. So, while it helps, and is a huge relief, it might well end up causing more damage than good, as plants' roots grown towards the soil-surface seeking the moisture, only to get blasted by the sun when that thin layer of water dries out. We can only hope for some follow-up rain in the coming week...

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