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Summer Heat, BeanTrellises and Palm Fronds

The sudden onset of  -- not just warm but -- hot weather here has drawn my attention to the horrors of Summer. In the sub tropics what you assume to be an opportune growing season is thwarted by the fact that so many vegetables will run quickly to seed.

Unless you plant little known exotics such as Kangkong you an end up surviving a  Summer without salad greens --at all.

So extending salad garden productivity is something that interests me.

Of course, the first thing to do is shade  your salad crop. But do I want to go to the cost  of draping shade cloth all over the garden and paying Bunnings for the privilege? And shade cloth can look so ugly. It's hardly potager de rigueur.

So I went looking for some structure I could use to shade my crop. I've had a succession of bad experiences   staking vegetables -- especially beans and tomatoes. Despite the design, they never work well for me.

So I gave up staking and will now let my tomato fruits rest on mulch. 

I thought that if I harvested more feral bamboo I'd have a lot of structural options. But as soon as I rammed a freshly harvested running bamboo cane into the earth, it may root.

Nielsen, a Danish gardener, has a web site -- happyfarming.com -- which focuses on such matters as designing the best of all possible bean trellis. He even offers a free ebook on the topic: Bean Trellis Tips.

Since I'm seeking shade first and staking support second, Nielsen's imaginative design suits me to a T. While I get to use bamboo for my cross beams, I'm planning on erecting uprights with drift wood that accumulate on the shoreline here  as so much  dead forest. (We built our chook pen out of it). The driftwood won't invade my patch and the gnarled and twisted grey wood shapes add a certain sculptural substance to the outlook. 

So I simply insert my uprights and lash on some bamboo to form the horizontals. For my shade, I don't need expensive shade cloth. Around here, for obscure reasons best known to themselves, people create gardens completely out of palms, and palms drop fronds which make excellent shade material.

For the palm grower fronds are a disposal problem as they are so big and cumbersome.

So once I have my structure: Voila! Instant shade. Anytime. I just need to collect some fronds from my neighbours and throw them where I need them, like roofing. I use them for shade over Summer then mulch them.


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