Tomatoes at last!

Sunset in a smoky sky - bushfire smoke blown in from interstate
Sunset in a smoky sky – bushfire smoke blown in from interstate, during our last spell of hot weather.

As our second forecast heatwave this summer sets in, I’m pleased to find that our tomatoes have finally decided to ripen. I was actually expecting that they might just kark it with all the heat we were having.

Our first ripe tomatoes of the summer.
Our first ripe tomatoes of the summer.

While I’m very glad to be picking ripe tomatoes I expect our overall crop to be very small this season, as the bushes seem to be struggling to stay alive.

Speaking of staying alive, I had another look at our adzuki beans and realised that part of the problem they were having was hydrophobic soil – that is the water we were giving them was running off rather than sinking in. To quote from the Gardening Australia fact sheet:

“Soils become hydrophobic when they are dry for extended periods – particularly when the dryness is combined with a high organic content”

That was the problem for our adzuki beans.

I’m not really a great fan of using wetting agents in my garden so I use another method. I scratch the surface of the soil then give it a light watering. I leave it for an hour or so and then water again. I do this three or four times during the day. It may take more than one day to get the soil absorbing moisture again. I also like to make one of the 3rd or 4th waterings with weed water or other plant tonic mix. I’m thinking that any plant trying to cope with poor water uptake probably needs a tonic as well. I also mulch the bed, after watering, to help retain the moisture. Just pull back the mulch from the plants before you water if necessary.

This method is certainly labour intensive so it’s probably best for small areas. If you are having a widespread problem in your soil then maybe using a wetting agent is the answer. After your hard work you will still need to maintain a regular deep watering regime to prevent any further problems, which I know can be a big ask when you are dealing with prolonged dry spells.