Season summary for my food garden in Ballarat (Victoria), Spring, 2023. This is mainly of relevance to food gardeners in the Ballarat area, but it might be a useful comparison for those living further afield.
Ballarat’s spring weather was in line with the Bureau Of Meteorology’s long term forecast of warmer dryer weather. The average maximum for spring was 1.5 °C above the long term average with September being 3 °C above, though October was close to average. The average minimum temperature was .4 °C above the long term average.
The spring rainfall was just 52% of the long term average. Though note that thunder storm activity can result in localised differences. For instance my backyard rain gauge recorded a spring rainfall of 172.2 ml, whereas BOM’S rain gauge at the Ballarat airport recorded just 110.1 ml. My higher rainfall was due to a severe local thunderstorm in November.
I only recorded one spring frost in September and none in October, which is an unusually low number of Spring frosts.
It has been a good spring for vegetables with most crops coming on earlier than they did last spring and no major pests or disease issues. Lettuces have been great, so was the August planted bush peas and the April planted broad beans crops. I also got a good, though small, crop of garlic. In the past I have had poor results growing garlic due to some sort of fungal disease that has been accidently introduced to the soil in my veggie garden. I have gotten around this by growing garlic in parts of the garden that have not had any vegetables growing in it in the past.
The one crop that has not done well is okra, though this is only the second time I have attempted to grow it, it’s early days yet.
The bush peas that I grew this spring. I like to give my push peas a small frames to climb on as arguably they are not truly bush beans as they can climb up to 1.5 metres high. Allowing the pea plants to climb puts most of the plants off the ground which reduces the risk of disease and makes the peas easier to pick.
Some of the garlic I harvested in November. Due to fungal disease contamination of my vegetable patch I now grow my garlic in other parts of the garden as the soil there is fungal disease free.
The one crop that hasn't done well is okra, probably due to it being more of a hot climate plant, it certainly doesn't like cold weather.
For fruit setting arguably this spring has been the best in years. The apple and pear trees put on heaps of fruit, so much so that I will have to thin out the apples on some trees. Though a thunderstorm (which included some large hailstones) did knock a lot of the young fruit off, downgrading the potential pear and apple harvest from a bumper to a good crop.
There were also plenty of flowers on the citrus trees, some of which are already forming fruit. So the citrus crop should be good as well, though that is not unusual as I find that my citrus trees fruit more consistently than my apple and pear trees.
A few of my apple trees put on so many apples that I will have to thin them out. Thinning out some of the apples allows the remaining apples to grow larger, if you don't thin out then the apples will remain small. This photo shows a branch with way too many apples on it, I will remove about a third of them.
Back on the 1st of September I lost all of my chickens to foxes, the result of a faulty chicken door that did not close at night which gave the foxes access to the chicken shed.
I replaced the chicken door and I bought five twelve week old Hy-Line chickens in the middle of October. They have settled in nicely, but as they only just started laying, we did not get any eggs this spring.