30 July 2010

Early Planning for Summer

Time for me to get busy preparing for the coming Summer. Yes, I do know that it's still the middle of Winter.

I have some contract (software) architecture & design work over the next few months which will see me spending quite a bit of time in Cape Town, starting in mid-August, so if I don't get off my duff and start preparing veggie beds now, I'm going to be hopelessly behind schedule by the time October comes around. The only real problem I face is a huge shortage of compost! There simply hasn't been the water for making compost from the stable-sweepings I usually use.

As it is I'm going to run a week or so late with seed-sowing, but it shouldn't do any real harm. As ever we'll be optimistic over rain this coming Summer, but I really must try and concentrate my efforts on fewer varieties of Chillis and Tomatoes, and on increasing the sheer volumes. Still, it's so great to be getting my hands back into the ground! I can't believe how much I've been missing the dirt under my nails.

Need I say that the veggie garden has been badly neglected, so it is a jungle of weeds. I wish the rotovator was working, then I'd make short work of clearing the beds. Perhaps we'll be able to spare enough money for a new rotovator motor if things go well. The old one bent something vital in the engine, and, given that the motor is a foreign make with no local agents, the cost of repair is up there in the same region as an entirely new motor. When we visited the Barley Breeding Institute, I noticed that they use the same make of rotovator as I have (BCS), and asked them where they source parts. The chap there laughed and said, "Oh no! We replace the motors as soon as we get the machine. The motors they come with are useless. Fine machines otherwise, though!" I can't help but agree.

We're also planning on acquiring a couple of Piggies. Brother-in-law has a mild-tempered boar who has been quite (cough) busy... and they receive a piglet from each litter he's responsible for. They've offered to let us have some, and I am very keen. I just don't know that keeping only two sows justifies the keeping of a boar of our own...

Busy times!

12 July 2010

Rain and Snow

Just a short update, as there's not much to tell... Brilliant rain for the month of June. Hooray! We got a wonderful 71mm - fully 65% above the mean for June. This meant that there was sufficient water in the dam to warrant re-priming the pump. Before the rain the inlet pipe was high and dry.

Now here we are only 1/3rd into July, and a rainfall of 45mm over the past couple of days means that we're already reaching the mean rainfall for July. It's plenty cold, so there's been quite heavy snow on the surrounding mountains. We first saw the snow while returning from a trip to Cape Town for the past week, and, although snow on the local mountains is not unusual for Winters, I doubt we have ever seen snow so low down the slopes! Of course it mostly melted in last-night's rains and today's follow-up sunny and warm weather, but it's still pretty early for snow around here. Small surprise for our many (many!) foreign visitors who thought of Africa as The Hot Continent!

Notwithstanding this great rain, we're still far from confident that the drought has broken. Optimistic, yes. Hopeful, always. But the fact remains that the rainfalls we're seeing still represent "abnormal" weather patterns: Winter is "usually" our dry season.

Oh, well. In hope and optimism I've planted some Swiss Chard, Carrots, Shallots and Salad Greens (Lettuce, Red Mustard and Rocket, semi-mixed-up.) All are up except the salad stuff which still needs a few more days.It's far too late for Cabbage tribe, Broad Beans or grains, so we've mostly missed out on the Winter growing season. Just holding thumbs for Spring. I guess that means I should get busy preparing Spring beds and making compost.

PS: Hard luck, Netherlands! I was rooting for you guys. Spain played brilliantly, though!

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