Surviving. SOS March 18. 2023.

Here in the Central Tablelands of NSW, we don’t need the Bureau of Meteorology to tell us La Niña is over. This fact has been apparent for some time as we haven’t received decent rain since January 22. Our total for February was 7.4 mm and there has been no rain in March. At the same time it has been hot and often windy, and even though we’ve done a great deal of watering, we are just hanging on here, with cracks in the ground, yellowing lawn and crisping plants.

Despite the difficult circumstances there are some success stories. The little Meyer lemon ( which is on an irrigation line) is looking quite happy and has some nascent fruit. Accompanied by a couple of red Portulaca it makes a cheerful photo.

I was encouraged by a friend to grow tomatoes. I have mentioned before that Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) is an insect that has put me off, after an initial attempt, growing tomatoes because of the damage it causes to the ripening fruit, turning it into disgusting mush complete with maggots. This year I used a homemade bait. I cut holes in bottles and put a small amount of my bait in the bottles. Insects are attracted to the liquid in the bottles, enter them and are unable to escape. I’m pleased to say my baits haven’t caught a single bee , ( they are not attracted to the mixture) but have trapped numbers of insects and there have been no fruit flies in the tomatoes.

Here is a photo of one of the home made traps complete with a disgusting collection of insects. The recipe for the bait:

2 litres of water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1tsp vanilla essence (the cheap kind), 2tbsp household ammonia. That’s it. Simple and effective. I mixed it up in a 2L plastic bottle and it has lasted for ages.

I must add that bruschetta made with garlic, ricotta cheese, sliced freshly harvested tomato, olive oil, pepper and salt has been one of the best meals this summer.

Our old friends the Zinnias have been depleted in numbers this year and despite being quite tough plants have had to be watered a lot. Here are some growing by the Black Genoa fig tree, inside a net. There has been a fruit bat in our garden in the evenings and starlings during the day, so fruit trees need to be netted.

Here is the little the Fuyu persimmon tree. I’m very excited because it has about a dozen fruit on it and I’m patiently waiting for them to ripen. This tree also has a net and a fruit fly trap. It’s the first time the tree has had fruit.

Out of half a dozen dahlias, this is the only one to have a flower this year. It’s under a silver birch tree so perhaps a little dappled shade has helped it. I grew it from a seed so I’ve no idea what it’s called. I’m very happy with it.

Finally, this pink Crepe Myrtle has been flowering for weeks, bless it. What an undemanding plant it is. Thank goodness, because many of the plants I added to the garden during the halcyon days of La Niña when the thought of a temperate climate with plentiful rain went to my head, are looking very sad, and now I’m thinking more about natives. Which you might say is exactly what I should be doing.

Those are six things from my garden on a blog which has become somewhat sporadic. I guess it could be said I’ve been a fair weather friend.

Six on Saturday is hosted by Jim at Garden Ruminations. To see what other gardeners do pop over to his site to read about other sixes. It’s Spring in the UK so lots of lovely spring flowers to see as well as plants in gardens in other parts of the world.

Weather today: hot and sunny: 10 – 37 degrees C. (Yes, it’s Autumn, even now as I write at 8 pm, it’s 29).

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane, commisserations about the fires near you. Your garden has been very productive despite the challenges. We have not been able to grow anything here because of the rodents. I hope you and the garden survive this rather hot weekend.

    1. Jane says:

      The fire has been terrible Tracy, though it hasn’t affected us directly apart from a lot of planes and helicopters flying overhead. It’s amazing that it has been contained considering the weather we’ve been having. I feel so sorry for the people who’ve lost their homes and animals.
      I didn’t know you have a rodent problem in Canberra. Hope you can get on top of it before too long.

      1. I thought you might have been getting some smoke drift, Jane. The one time I went to Hillend in winter, it was so cold and dry. Also rugged and beautiful. The roads were incredibly narrow and winding. My first thought was that it was a place I would be avoiding in the heat of summer. It must be very distressing for the inhabitants to go from one natural disaster to another.
        Ive never experienced so many rodents before, Jane. They are quite the chatterboxes in the evenings. The salvia jiggles with movement. Our neighbour has finally invested in an enclosed compost bin!

  2. Rosie Amber says:

    Those tomatoes do look tasty and eating them on bruschetta has my mouth watering.

    1. Jane says:

      They distaste delicious, Rosie.

  3. fredgardener says:

    Clever insect traps! I use something similar for hornets here. But with beer, blackcurrant syrup and white wine. I hope the hot days won’t ruin your garden.

    1. Jane says:

      Interesting combination in your traps Fred! Sounds like a cocktail. I have tried beer with snails, and that works, even the cheap low alcohol one. Sadly, the garden is rather ruined already, though you can’t really tell from the photos. I only photographed plants that look ok. 😉

  4. You’re having a rough time of it weather-wise again. The Zinnias look great and that raised bed is rather smart. Well done on the tomatoes and fruit fly trap.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, we seem to stagger from one event to the next: drought, pestilence (mice) flood and now drought again. The days of average sensible weather seem like they’re gone forever.

  5. krispeterson100 says:

    Ugh! I’m sorry to hear about the heat and the lack of rain, Jane. In contrast, despite predictions of low rainfall this season, we’ve experienced a virtual deluge. The climatologists have talked about our movement in the direction of El Nino conditions (which here mean a LOT of rain instead of the opposite as in your part of the world) but they’ve yet to confirm that as the basis for this year’s heavy rainfall.

    Your insect trapping trip is very clever – and obviously successful. You post is also a reminder that I need to plant a crape myrtle this year.

    1. Jane says:

      I have read about your flooding and snow(!) Kris. I wonder if all that water affects your dry tolerant garden badly, though perhaps you have good drainage, being up high as you are. Crepe myrtles are amongst the most forgiving plants in my garden. They do very well in our area and are a burst of colour at this time of the year.

  6. It has been terribly dry here as well. Some of the natives are taking it. Others not so much. Oddly, the tropical bromeliads are fine!? Your tomatoes look wonderful, I have just started picking mine and the bruschetta sounds divine.

  7. Jane says:

    Seems like you haven’t had a share of the rain that has fallen north. I hope you get some soon and that your garden survives well.

  8. Pauline says:

    I’m impressed with your insect trap, the result was well worth it. Sorry to hear that you are having so much trouble with your weather, its hard to know what to plant.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you, Pauline. I was pleased that the fruit fly baits were so successful. I’ll perhaps plant even more tomatoes next year!

  9. germac4 says:

    Sorry to hear you have fruit flies eating your tomatoes, that would be the end, thank goodness you have found a remedy. (especially looking at your tomatoes, they look delicious). Isn’t it wonderful to eat tomatoes, sun dried literally from the garden!
    I agree about the rain, we have received very little in the last two months, but slightly more than you.

    1. Jane says:

      Hi Gerri, for the life of me, I can’t imagine why I didn’t think of doing sun dried tomatoes when we had the perfect weather for them. I’ve done them before, and the taste is intense.

      1. germac4 says:

        I agree!

  10. hb says:

    Yes, know all about drought. Sorry to hear it came back to your region with a vengeance. In my area glorious unexpected winter of rain, but this summer, we’ll be as you are now.

    Your ‘Meyer’ Lemon looks magnificent–congratulations! Success with tomatoes and Persimmons as well–so it’s not all bad, I hope.

    1. Jane says:

      That’s true, HB. The fruit has been great to have. I’m very much looking forward to eating those persimmons when they ripen, and the fig trees ( I should have mentioned them in this post) have given us a few fruit daily. Lovely for breakfast!

  11. Our garden has steadily become drier again too, and it’s back to watering with a hose. As soon as the weather cools I will start planning to plant more natives too. Your tomatoes look fantastic andMr S is definitely going to try your recipe for fruit fly bait. Many thanks for sharing it. I had only one Persimmon off my tree this year. Your crop looks amazing!

    1. Jane says:

      I hope the fruit fly bait works as well for you as it did for me. It’s possible there were other reasons for fruit flies to not be in our garden this summer, but I do hope the it’s the inclusion of traps that account for the success. I hope I can keep those persimmons on the tree safely until they’re ready to pick….there are birds bats and flies ready to pounce!

      1. Mr S is keen to try the bait so 🤞
        I have to protect my persimmon fruit next season as I lost 2 of 3 fruit on it this year, and the remaining one was stung. It is a constant battle, isn’t it?

        1. Jane says:

          Yes, it is. A couple of days after my glowing report about my bait, I found several tomatoes that had maggots in them.😢 I went to by net for the persimmon tree, but none to be had here, so I suspect I’ll have the same problem as you. It’s very disappointing.

          1. Oh no! That is awful! Perhaps you can buy those net bags (we get them on eBay) and hopefully save some fruit?

          2. They’re called fruit fly protection bags and are about $1 each

          3. Jane says:

            Thanks, I’ll look for them. Btw, I omitted to say that I had success with the liquid bait for nearly 3 months, so not a complete disaster.

          4. Steve is still keen to try the bait. He has tried so many other baits with little success!

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