I was watching Gardening Australia the other night and the presenter Jerry Coleby-Williams spoke of how it was now time for tomatoes in the subtropics. 23 degrees and 70% humidity is what a tomato likes. He lives in Bris Vegas and we are temperate zone here in Sydney but I grabbed hold of what he said because it fit with my observations over the past two years. Cherry Tomatoes for Christmas is a more realistic goal for those of us not using pesticides. We did have a tremendous crop at Glenfield but that was netted and irrigated.
If you are a gardener in Sydney you will know that Autumn not only brings the cooler nights and ends that silly thing called Daylight Savings but that the soil is still incredibly warm and our temps here in Sydney are around 23-25 degrees…perfect for tomatoes I discovered last year. The ones that were random pop ups and the ones that had made it through the summer had a prolonged life as soon as the temp dropped a bit. The yield lessens for sure, but the plant suffers far less. They grow new shoots, and they continue to flower right up until the frost. Even then, they keep going but taste bitter…still edible though! I find in Autumn now I no longer reach for my slippers and gown in early April and nor do the tomatoes turn up their toes. If this is climate change, then we need to rethink our crops and our planting schedules here in Sydney…no longer is the advice on the seed packet, gospel!
It has been a challenge for me to get to love a Sydney Autumn as to me it is the start of a a veerrrry long football season with the football lovers in my family…in particular, one extremely passionate roosters supporter and it also means the brain drain of trying new tactics to defeat the white cabbage moth! As I get better at what I’m doing, I figure the more time, money and effort required to keep the pests away, the more time I could grow something else successfully. I think this is something we need to consider if we want to call ourselves “ethical growers”. What if there is another vegetable that has the crunch of broccoli but is easier to grow and more pest resistant. Shouldn’t we grow that instead? I haven’t found that edible yet but I’m sure there is one.
Maybe in order for me to get over my “end of Summer sadness” I need to think of and Autumn as “late Summer”. 1 September is never the start of Spring despite the nursery hype around this time so listen to the earth, watch your plants and your growing space and plant accordingly.
Free Ranger Jaqx