This must be my favourite sort of summer weather. Warm, wet and faintly tropical. Brooding skies, intense colours and earthy aromas. Being out in the rain and not being all that bothered by it. Watching your child run through the rain and mud, half in the scrud. Sitting on the back porch watching the splash and drip, noticing how the garden seems to have relaxed and expanded. How rain drops sparkle like the most precious of jewells. I feel relaxed too. My vegetable patch won't die and neither will my garden.
I haven't really been watering the garden properly since we went on stage three restrictions. I'm not the best waterer as it is and my preferred method is to give the garden a really long soak about once a week with the sprinkler. I find that works quite well with heavily mulched beds . But I am not allowed to any more. I could water with the hose between 8 and 10 twice a week but I keep missing the appointed times. Like everyone else, we've been bucketing some of the nicer grey water onto the garden. They even have buckets under the showers at the pool and our house guests just treated the bucketing regime as a normal and expected part of life. This bucketing of lite grey water seems to be keeping things going, just. My next garden is going to have a well thought out dripper system. And rainwater tanks.
The positives of mulching are widely known. It reduces the soil drying out from evaporation, protects worms, improves soil structure and drainage, adds nutrients and water holding capacity, reduces the impactof weeds and provides a soft, absorbent surface for rain to fall on. The down sides are not often talked about. Heavily mulched beds can prevent rain from penetrating into the soil, especially if light. This tends not to happen when watering or rain is regular, but during extended dry spells. And seems to affect beds where not much is growing. Perhaps plants themselves provide ways for the moisture to get into the soil. It's really noticable in the bed of beans (to the back of the photo). The soil under the mulch is quite dry and the mulch seems to have formed a crust with a powder inside it. Many of the dwarf bean seeds I planted have not germinated. Those that did are not doing well. The climbing beans are doing better but they're getting lots of grey water. So I'm going to scuff the mulch up and try to get some beans going. And perhaps think of some other ways to get water under the surface.
Tommorrow I'm going to try and plant the rest of the basil, some cherry tomatoes which I've heard can be grown in a pot over winter (?), coriander and a whole heap of lettuce seedlings. You can never have enough lettuce, I don't think. Then I'll top up the seed boxes and sow the next lot of seeds. I think I should be starting to plant seeds of winter vegetables. I always leave things like broccoli far to late but if I plant it now, then it seems way too early and they'll be attacked by cabbage moths. Maybe I should look it up. If it's rainy, I'll sit under the porch with my book and wait out the heaviest showers. And watch the rain fall. And I certainly won't be complaining about the weather.