Tag Archives: wind

Food #gardening in mini greenhouses

The weather here in Melbourne is bleak and blustery, but we had a few minutes of sunshine earlier on so I raced out with my trusty phone to take these:

The pictures show the mini greenhouses I bought from Bunnings. They come in a flat pack -shiver- but everything fits together quite easily for a change, including the clear plastic ‘cover’ that fits over the frame. The covers go all the way to the floor [but do not ‘seal’ completely]. Access to the inside is via heavy duty zips.

I was skeptical, at first, but I quickly noticed that the interior of the greenhouses is noticeably warmer than the outside air, and visibility is usually low due to condensation on the plastic. I’m not sure how the plants will go in summer conditions, but at the moment I’m only watering a tiny bit, once every 2 weeks or so.

Wind is a bit of a problem here, but by positioning the mini greenhouses up against the wall, and anchoring them with big, earth filled ‘tubs’ [see below], both structures have survived the north winds we get up here, so far at least.

I don’t usually do product endorsements, but I liked the first mini greenhouse so much, I went back and bought a second one. The original contains some very happy lettuce and continental parsley while the new one contains BokChoy [?] also grown from seed.

If anyone is interested in growing some winter vegetables, here are the salient facts:

Position:

North facing deck, up against the brick wall of the house for both extra warmth and protection from the wind.

Supplier:

Bunnings in Eltham

Form:

Flat pack. No issues with putting it together.

Cost:

I think each mini greenhouse was around $29, so they were very cheap.

Tubs:

I found some ordinary, plastic storage tubs, the kind you can buy at the supermarket, and drilled holes through the bottom of each one. Then I placed the tubs on top of their own lids to catch excess water and provide a ‘well’ of water to draw on.

Cost:

The tubs were on special and again, at roughly $10 per tub, they were much cheaper than an equivalent plant pot. Another important point was that they fit very neatly inside the bottom of each mini greenhouse, thereby acting as a kind of ‘anchor’ against the wind.

I know the tubs won’t last for very long because of the UV etc, but when they disintegrate, I’ll simply buy new ones. In the meantime, I have lovely, lush lettuce almost ready to harvest and some Chinese vegetables coming on. Colour me happy. đŸ˜€

cheers

Meeks


Warrandyte swelters… and we all hold our breaths

Temperatures of 41 C [105.8 F] are forecast for today, with strong northwesterly winds pushing south before a cool change tonight.

What does all that mean for us? Very, very high fire danger, that’s what.

As always, it’s the northerly wind that turns an unpleasant day into a dangerous one. Add a dry summer to the mix, and the potential for lightning strikes, and suddenly a dangerous day can quickly become fatal.

Here, in Australia, we are told we are responsible for our own safety during bushfires. We are not forced to evacuate, which can be a good thing if, like me, you have systems in place to protect yourself if all else fails. Unfortunately, not many people are prepared to spend their hard earned cash on fire fighting equipment they may never use.

Those people often say they will leave if a bushfire threatens, but few have any idea of when they should leave. Most stay at home, monitoring the situation and doing a ‘wait and see’.

I can sympathize with that very human reaction. None of us want to leave unless we really have to. Where will we go? What will we do with the animals? The kids? Elderly parents? And beneath it all is something we all know but avoid facing – if we leave, will we have anything to come home to?

That human response is the elephant in the room, and the fatal flaw in the current bushfire strategies. It may give the authorities a legal ‘out’ should something go pear shaped, but it’s of little use to actual residents.

So in case you’re reading this, here are some facts :

The time to leave is either the night before a bad day, or early in the morning – i.e. before there is any danger.

Why? Because once a bushfire does threaten your area, being on the roads is the WORST place to be.

Why?

– Because smoke can make it almost impossible to see where you’re going,

– Because trees can fall across the road, trapping you in your car,

– Because other drivers will be panicking just as much as you, and they can run into you, leaving you both stuck with no shelter.

Or, if you live in a place like Warrandyte, you might find yourself in an almighty traffic jam as every man and his dog tries to cross the bridge over the Yarra at exactly the same time.

If you have ever tried to cross the bridge during peak hour, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. People caught in such a traffic jam would be …in a bad way if the fire came through over the top of them.

So if you are caught unprepared, you are more likely to survive in your house than in your car. In a house, you have a bigger ‘bubble’ around you. In a house, you have multiple points of exit if the house itself begins to burn. In a house, you at least have some chance of getting out in one piece.

But here is where human nature strikes again. Knowing something is not the same as feeling it. You may know that you are safer staying in your house, but will you be able to resist the urge to run? Especially when you know you’ve done nothing, absolutely nothing to make that house less fire prone?

Fear is pernicious, and few of us are immune to it. So if you know you’re not prepared, please don’t wait. Go now. The worst that can happen is that you’ll lose your house, or feel a bit silly when nothing happens. But at least you and the most precious things in your life will still be alive to start again.

stay safe and cool,

Meeks

 

 

 

 


Bushfire danger – burning off on high wind days

Courtesy Shannon Buxton

Courtesy Shannon Buxton

Despite countless examples of bushfires triggered by controlled burns gone wrong – set by professionals, mind you – some dick donkey is burning off today. I can see the smoke rising up through the trees across the valley from my house.

It’s not hot, yet, but there’s a strong north-easterly blowing, and wind is the element that turns an ordinary bushfire into a potential inferno.

Burning off on a windy day is just asking for trouble. Gum leaves burn even when they’re fresh and green.

Unfortunately, today hasn’t been declared a day of Total Fire Ban, so there’s not much I can do about Donkey-Boy across the valley. All I can do is sit, rant, and hope he’s standing next to that fire with a garden hose at the ready.

The thing that worries me most, though, is that Donkey-Boy probably thinks he’s doing the ‘right’ thing. He probably works all week, and only has the weekend for chores, including fire prevention chores. He probably had other chores to do yesterday, when it was warm but windless. So today he’s catching up. Yay.

I don’t know exactly which house belongs to Donkey-Boy because there is a sea of trees between my house and his, but I know the general position. Up on that hillside are a number of brand new houses. I can only assume the residents are also new to Warrandyte. Clearly they know enough to clear up the fuel load on their properties, but they don’t know enough to know when it’s safe to do so.

To be fair, it did rain heavily two days ago, so the chance of a fire going out of control is minimal, but you’d be amazed at how quickly things can dry out in Warrandyte. One day the ground is soft and moist, the next you can hear gum leaves crackling underfoot. The reason is the lack of deep topsoil and the steep terrain. Rain tends to run off before it has a chance to soak deep into the clay subsoil. Ergo, things dry out, fast.

And we have a mono-culture of red box gums.

Let me tell you a story about gums. This story was told to me by my whippersnipper man*. He was working up in the foothills of the Dandenongs a couple of years ago, and he was burning off on a day similar to this one. It was windy and embers floated up in the air. Nothing caught fire at ground level though.

Once the fire was out, my whippersnipper man made sure the coals were safe, packed up and went home. An hour later he received a panicked call from his client : one of the gums was smoking. He raced back and was just in time to stop the whole canopy from going up in flames.

“What on earth happened?” I asked, half wondering if he was pulling my leg. He wasn’t.

Apparently an ember had floated up into the gum tree, landed in a fork and smouldered until it had enough oomph to burn.True story.

So the moral of this post is to do your homework, and not do burning off on windy days.

And in case you’re wondering, there’s still a bit of smoke curling up above the trees, but the wind has died down, and there are rain clouds coming in. Looks like neither Donkey-Boy nor I will have to put our fire plans into action today, for which I am truly thankful.

cheers

Meeks

* For my northern hemisphere friends, whippersnipper = brushcutter.


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