Friday, October 14, 2016
Exploiting Your Niche
One of the many wonders of a backyard vegie garden is that you can beat commercial growers not in spite of, but because of, your small scale. It would be foolhardy indeed for a commercial grower to start a tomato farm here in Tasmania, unless they have several very large greenhouses, as late frosts can sneakily decimate baby tomatoes even up to November. However, if you have a small plot of backyard tomatoes, and by some miracle have remembered to check the forecast, you can cover up your tiny crop with old sheets (you can also use horticultural fleece, but one of my creeds is, why buy horticultural fleece when you have a stack of old sheets?). If your baby tomatoes are slightly bigger you can crack out the mini greenhouses (er, plastic bottle tops) that Bek has cleverly fashioned for her delicate snowflake tomato babies.
The other thing you can cunningly exploit in your backyard vegie garden is micro climates. I have mentioned before that lemons and other citrus aren't grown commercially in Tasmania because it is too cold. But practically every old Tasmanian garden has a lemon tree tucked in a warm corner. This is where suburban and urban environments can really come into their own - the built up nature of the town creates warm pockets - next to sunny walls, or black asphalt roads and driveways. There are often frost-free patches next to houses because the walls have absorbed sun during the day and release the heat slowly at night. Working out all of the intriguing quirks of your property through the seasons is fun, and can be very rewarding. One of my friends owns a 1950s brick house which has a small garden patch in a sunny sheltered corner where two brick walls meet, with a concrete path in front. This small patch was clearly the perfect place to plant a Tahitian lime and a mandarin, and these are some of the healthiest and most productive citrus trees I have ever had the privilege of cadging fruit from (well, in actual fact I am showered with generous gifts of this fruit, as it is so ridiculously prolific, and I have lovely friends).
Anyway, having managed to dodge Thursday night's frost I am hoping for balmy days and warm nights to encourage the baby tomatoes to reach passata size:)
I'll leave you with a front garden food forest. Here is someone who knows how to make a suburban garden work very hard indeed. Give me two years and I'll be there..