Season summary for my food garden in Ballarat (Victoria), Summer 2021-22. This is mainly of relevance to gardeners living in the Ballarat area, though it might be a useful comparison for food gardeners living further afield.
Summer in Ballarat this year was both warmer and dryer than usual. The average maximum temperature was 1.3 degrees above the long-term average while the average minimum was 1.4 above. Although all the months were above average January was by far the hottest, coming in at 2.6 above (maximum) and a very high 3.9 above (minimum). Surprisingly, for such high average temperatures, there were no heat waves, just consistently warm weather throughout the summer.
Rainfall this summer was 70% of the long-term average. But it felt dryer than that as virtually all the rain fell over two days in January. Almost no rain fell during the entire month of February, making it the second driest February in Ballarat on record.
Overall, this summer’s vegetable season was a good one, though many of the vegetable crops were late, probably due to the colder and wetter than average spring weather. Some specifics: –
It is not looking to be that productive a tomato season this year. The combination of cold spring and (I think) too much fertiliser being applied has resulted in fewer fruit and way too much growth. When conditions are overly good tomato plants tend to grow more laterals at the expense of flowers and fruit. While this ratio usually changes in the autumn it usually results in a lower crop yield overall. The other problem was that blackbirds have been pecking at the fruit as soon as they show any sign of turning red. So much so that this season I have had to cover my tomato plants with bird netting to protect them, something I have not done for years.
- CAPSICUMS AND CHILLIS
Both capsicums and chillies have had a lot of damaged caused by rats, the likes of which I haven’t seen in years. So much so that I lost nearly all my chilli crop, sadly no sweet chilli sauce making this year.
The best season I have had in years, have frozen heaps of them, the new freezer we bought is completely full.
A combination of the new Exanimo lettuce variety I have been trialling and a good crop of Little Gem lettuces (a traditional variety that does well in summer) has resulted in the best summer lettuce crop in years.
Excellent season for zucchinis with virtually no Choanephora fruit rot and the inevitable occurrence of Powdery mildew being both mild and coming quite late in the season.
- GOLDEN NUGGET WINTER SQUASH
My best crop ever, the fruit were both large and plentiful.
A good season for apples, average for pears and poor again for peaches and apricots.
After losing my three remaining hens to foxes in the spring I bought five new Hyline pullets. They began to lay in the second half of February. All doing well.
Harvest results chart of what was produced in my food garden this Spring and how well it went. Click HERE to see a .PDF of this chart. Note that this is probably too specific to interest most gardeners, I produce it primarily as a record for myself.
TOP: Damage done to a capsicum, probably caused by rats. BOTTOM: Californian Wonder capsicum that the rats didn’t get to.
LEFT: Damaged tomato, caused by blackbirds. RIGHT: Eventually, due to loosing too many tomatoes to blackbirds, I had to net my tomato plants. I haven’t had to do this for several years.
My best Golden Nugget winter squash crop ever, the fruit were both large and plentiful. Golden Nugget Squash is a great vegetable to grow as the first of the fruit are usually ready to harvest by mid-January, much early than any pumpkin variety. It also stores extremely well, usually lasting until the end of November.
Excellent bean production this summer, bush, climbing and the perennial Scarlet Runner beans all produced heavy crops.
Stewed apples after being processed using the Fowlers preserving method. So far I have processed over 30 Fowlers jars of stewed apples, which should be more than enough to get us through to the next season.