Clearing the Air

After a few weeks of unbearable heat and oppressive humidity, things were feeling quite dire.  The only time the temperatures were low enough to do anything sensible in the garden was briefly in the morning before being driven away with sweat beading on the brow and gasping for a cooling drink.  The fans in the house ineffectively pushed warm air about the place but provided little respite.  Even the flies that became trapped in house were lazy and drowsy, creating a constant slow battle of swiping them away only to have them immediately return.     The overall feeling that summed up these days was apathy.    There was certainly no joy, and any bursts of energy were short lived.

storm damaged corn
The glass gem corn is the worst damage we have, but it shouldn’t take long to pop them back upright and give them a feed with plenty of seaweed tonic to reduce the stress and they should bounce back.

But then relief appeared on the horizon.  But wielding a double edged sword.  It was the reset we were looking for, however there was a price to pay for it.   The tropical cyclone Dovi was bearing down bringing with it high winds and rain.  The warnings were desperate pleas from the Civil Defence to brace ourselves for the worst.  So, we rounded up torches, filled containers with drinking water, and got out the camp stove in case the power went out.  We battened down the hatches and secured items that could potentially be a flight risk and waited it out.

Rain gauge
We didn’t get all that much but some is always better than nothing at this time of year.   If you look closely you can also see the residue of the salt laden winds – as if normal wind wasn’t bad enough.

It did turn into a pretty serious nationwide event with power out for many, trees down all over the place and great flooding in several regions.   For us it seemed like we dodged the worst.  The wind straight off the ocean gusted up over 140km/h at the worst of it, but we’ve had gusts of 212km/h before – when the house was up on jacks during the removal process, so we know our house is solid and everything else has been built strong, knowing what nature is capable of.

storm damage
The overall harm to the garden is from the sand. The wind picks it up and throws it at the plants in an abrasive blast. I love the sand on the paths, but it has some serious down sides. I may need a rethink….

Our power stayed on throughout and we only got 15mm of rain, but even that isn’t so bad as the ground is still pretty happy with the 115mm we got the previous week in a rainstorm that did nothing to alleviate the temperatures except introduce humidity to what was previously a dry heat.

The insect net over the tomatoes was flapping in the wind like a runaway bride so we took it off to avoid damage. The tomatoes seem mostly ok, but will need some love.

So today in a great seasonal reset the temperatures are in the low 20°Cs and quite lovely.  The sky is blue, and the forecast is promising it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.  There will be rain from time to time and that is ok as the garden loves rain, but the heady high temperatures are behind us, and we will begin the slow and pleasant descent into the next season.

Roast Vegetables for soup
It hasn’t felt like soup weather for ages, but was just perfect during the storm. I didn’t realised I’d accidently laid the vegetables in the roasting pan in a rainbow style until I pulled them out of the oven!

My first job is to do what I can to repair the damage from the storm.  There isn’t all that much, thank goodness but there are some plants that need a bit of a hand.   And then I can once again immerse myself in the garden, enjoying the routine of even the most mundane chores without feeling like it is some kind of endurance test in extreme conditions.

Come again soon – normal daily gardening will resume again.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

10 thoughts on “Clearing the Air

  1. Well, at least you got something out of it, although I do not know what ‘normal’ weather is for there at this time of year. This is our rainy season, but except for a light shower in the first few days of January, the last real rain was last year. Hey, the weather is great here. It just isn’t what is should be.

  2. We had and are still having high winds, and some rain in Hawkes Bay. I was out this morning propping up my tall sunflowers and tall Jerusalem artichokes. Lost a tree dahlia too. But I’m getting my first rip figs – super big this year so all is forgiven.

  3. I’m so glad to read it wasn’t just me feeling the apathy through January.
    In far northwest Auckland we didn’t get much rain, just a hot, raging wind that went a day more than the plants could take. Corn flattened, peppers snapped off taking the crop with the tops, tomatoes withered and wind burned, same for the beans and egg plants and watermelons. It is time for a total replant.
    Enough of the summer crops are in sacks, jars and the freezer to not feel it has been a total loss. How did folk cope with this level of loss when they really did rely on their gardens for the year’s food? I ask myself that, and really search for ways to salvage food from what looks like compost.
    Thankfully the cool morning has allowed some respite to look, take stock and make a plan before the heat comes again in the early afternoon. After 60 hours without power I have had plenty of time to think.

    1. I think summer gets too much credit as the best season. Especially when it is mostly hot and nasty. Gosh it sounds like your garden took a bit of a hammering. I managed to get my corn back up into the vertical position. I think a storm at this end of the season is almost like – fair enough – I was almost done anyway! Growing to be sustainable is tricky but each problem requires a solution and so moving forward the garden becomes less and less vulnerable… but it can be heart breaking to lose what you need. And that was quite a long time to be without power. Ours stayed on, but then the power company switched it off this week for a day for ‘maintenance’. I hope your garden recovers and you get to enjoy the rest of the season. Cheers Sarah : o)

  4. Down in the Hutt we got an absolute soaking, which the dry dry ground gratefully slurped up. And then there was the wind which thrashed things around, though in the end I think all we lost were a few trusses of tomatoes (due to them being insufficiently trussed up).

    1. The weather can get quite extreme here from time to time but for the most part it is lovely. The key is expecting it to be brutal and putting things in place to protect the garden as best as I can, ready for it when it comes. : o)

Leave a Reply