Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Sydney seems to get one or two of these outrageously hot days every summer. It all depends on the wind direction. When the winds come from the north-west, where the deserts of the inland are, then Sydney cooks. And today we cooked while also getting an unpleasant taste of what is likely to happen a lot more often in the future.

Today, at our place, it reached 41.1°C, but in
the official weather station at nearby Sydney
Airport it reached, ugh, 42.2°C. That high of
41.1 at our place is 106°F on the other scale.

First thing this morning I gave everything a very
good drink indeed, then I dusted off my collection
of shadecloth sheets and picked out the plants
needing special care. Around lunchtime, when the
temps were racing up from 37 to 38 then 39 in the
space of just 5 minutes, I first draped the very
healthy and productive strawberry patch with a
protective layer of cool, pale green shade.
Though, for the record, I have never actually stepped into a sauna,
(being one who hates the heat), I feel obliged to pull out my
extreme heat cliche generator and testify that stepping outside
was, indeed, just like stepping into a sauna. My actual sense was
that it vividly reminded me of the time I left the cool comfort of a
Qantas plane and stepped out into the muggy delirium of Bangkok
Airport one hot day many years ago. Felt faint for a moment, I did.
Anyway, braving the heat, I then covered up the ripening crops
of cherry tomatoes and vulnerable adolescent eggplant plants.

Right now we're bringing a whole kitchen
strainer full of ripe cherry tomatoes in every
morning, and with me foolishly planting
all five plants I raised from seed (couldn't bear
to cast any tomato babies adrift) I now have
far too many plants, and way too many tomatoes!
No worries though, Pam loves them as much as
I do. I think good cherry tomatoes have the
best tomato flavour of all. I love the zingy explosion
of pure tomato 'hit' you get when the firm skin
gives way and bursts inside your mouth. Yum.
Well worth saving on a scorcher, that's for sure.

The last piece of shadecloth was reserved for the water pond,
and its beautiful little occupant, Paul the goldfish. Last year
when it sizzled like this in January, I was a bit slow to add the
shadecloth on a similarly hot day, and Paul's big pot was
frighteningly warm to the touch and the water was disturbingly
on the wrong side of lukewarm. Despite this my little golden mate
was doing fine, seemingly unbothered by slow braising. This time
his bowl is in a cooler, shadier spot, with shadecloth on top.
Paul probably thinks there's an extended eclipse going on, looking
up into the gloom above from his cool, dark and shady little pond.
So here's hoping all my fellow Aussie gardening friends are surviving this unpleasant day when survival is all that's on the agenda. Here's to cooler days ahead.


digging up the dirt said...

Yeap I have given up and sit inside under the fan. I just checked on my poor rhubarb poor thing is not coping well. hope that cool change arrives before 1am tomorrow

Ben@Hammary said...

Nice! Good job!

Catherine said...

With a dead aircon, we were were still in the pool at 11.30pm, trying to bring the core temperature down! It was interesting to see what survived well and what didn't (apart from us). To my surprise, the golden sage took a battering. I sprayed several smaller plants with DroughtShield that have suffered in similar conditions before and they're looking fine.

Jamie said...

Catherine, a friend commented to me that the temp of 23.8°C on my temp gauge photo showed that I wasn't really doing it too tough in my air-conned home office!

The only sign of damage here was a bird's nest fern with some nasty sunburn blotches, some shrivelled helleborus foliage and a hastening of the cucumber vine's descent. The rest came up OK, amazingly enough.

Sorry to hear about the dead air-con. I think I would have died moments after if mine had carked it!

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

My little garden didn't look too happy when I arrived home from our holiday. Although our house-sitter had done a great job keeping everything alive, not sure if the tomatoes will make it. The difference in temperature was the weird thing for our little family. We had been in minus 22 in Northern Sweden, and it was still 37 degrees when we landed in Sydney on Tuesday night.

patientgardener said...

The heat and fires have been featuring on our news at the moment. I dont envy you at all, here we have the threat of snow hanging over us at the weekend, hopefully it will be light snow.
I heard today that the temperatures had cooled a little in your area so I hope you are feeling a little cooler now