Roots 'n' Shoots: The Shroom’s Weather Report 2015/2016

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Shroom’s Weather Report 2015/2016



*Cue music*

… da da da dum dum…

*Serious reporting voice*… Good morning and welcome to The Shroom’s annual weather report for the period of July 2015-2016.

Since the establishment of a mechanical weather monitoring system at The Shroom’s vegetable garden premises during July 2013; several observations of extreme weather have been made and empirical data collected of these events with regards to precipitation (mm) and temperature (oC).



Weekly temperature data was collected of maximum daytime temperatures during the peak hours from 11h00 to 13h00 and precipitation was measured in mm, or more accurately, the amount of rainfall in millimetres on a flat surface.

The results were as follows...


*Ahem*

I have been tallying the temperature and rainfall of the vegetable garden for three seasons! I will summarise here the average monthly temperature and rainfall for the past season (2015/16) as well as making comparisons to the previous two (2013/14 and 2014/15).

Hailstorms were a massive problem this year as well as very hot weather with irregular rainfall:

1) The rainfall was on time (September), which gave us hope for the growing season but soon dried up for October-November, which resulted in plant loss as well as the rainwater tanks reaching 30% - Yikes!!

2) Droughts were widespread and severe throughout the country leading to loss of crops and animals, including little to no production from our own summer vegetable garden. See my Gardening lessons from Drought post.

3) Winter is still too warm for winter vegetables, but some smarter plantings resulted in an improved harvest for the winter garden.


Here are the graphs on average (mean) temperature and rainfall as well as a discussion about some of the problem areas for the year.



Temperatures overall were a lot higher than usual, especially for the Aug-Dec period. This resulted in quick initial growth of the garden, but come Oct-Dec all the plants were suffering due to the heat. Crops were poor and coupled with no rain resulted in mostly hand-watering, which only provided enough water to survive not thrive. At least we had loads of tomatoes! April was warmer than last year (which was already 5oC higher than 2014), May saw a drop (and us being more hopeful for a colder winter) but alas June temperatures are even warmer than last year. This is reflected in the growth of the winter garden = lots of initial good growth, stagnation and no crops… only beans, which can grow well in larger temperature ranges and planting the leaves in the shade resulted in some leafy crops as well. No peas, no broccoli, cauliflower or any other cabbages are cropping properly, in fact they have all stagnated and remained small immature plants.




Despite the fact that the rainfall tally this year is 709 mm (17.5% more than expected average of 600 mm p.a; where 2015 was 594.3 mm and we had 877.5 mm in 2014) its dispersal was atrocious. We had good rain in Sep, alarmingly less rain in Oct & Nov. The rain dump in March mostly went to filling the rain tanks as no vegetables are active during this time and a very late (yet welcome) rain in May have skewed the rain measurements for this season. Read more on the specific impact of the rain distribution in my Gardening lessons from Drought post.

If the extreme temperature and lack of rain during crucial growing seasons weren’t bad enough a freak hailstorm on the 9th of January decimated my vegetable garden as well as causing structural damage to my vegetable cage. Read more on my Gardening lessons from Drought post for the full story.

The investment in rainwater tanks was well placed, especially during this drought year since we did not only use it for the garden. Thankfully the El Niño system has started to dismantle and we surely hope for improved weather conditions during the next season.

After keen weather watching for three seasons we can summarise observations as follows: floods in 2014, dust in 2015 and droughts in 2016 - what will our crazy and unpredictable weather throw next at the backyard gardeners of South Africa? Well, you will have to stay tuned for another update next year!


*Serious reporting voice*
…Keep well and good night…



Related Post:

Drought Gardening Lessons from El Nino
Winter Blues Wires cross & signals lost 2015

Season Lore For the Southern Hemisphere
South Africa Climate & Hardiness Zones  

The Shroom's Weather Report 2014/2015
The Shroom's Weather Report 2013/2014


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5 comments:

  1. Hi, Shroom!

    Very interesting observations! I just want to add that, apart from the higher maximum daytime temperatures this winter, the minimum temperatures have also been much higher than usual. No sub-zero temps in Midrand in June, unheard of! Hope a few frosts come to sort out the pests before spring (or are my concerns unfounded?)...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey hey! The weather is very peculiar lately, especially with the rain we had during the week! We never get rain in July and then there were the tornadoes going around as well!!! I mean one tornado is already strange, but multiples? ... anyways I do think we will get frost as it has been a very moist winter (lots of dew on the grass in the morning, water even dripping from the gate) - I am thinking there might be a high chance at black frost even, so make sure to get tender plants under frost fleece.

    I seriously don't know how to prepare the vegetable garden for the upcoming season anymore, because now we are apparently entering a La Nina (not a strong one though) which will peak in December, but the tail-end effects of the El Nino are still widespread - so maybe I'll just go on as per usual and see what happens...

    Good luck with your garden's first 'official' planting season!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, Shroom!

    Very interesting article. How is your garden doing this growing season. My rain tank is pretty much empty and Roodepoort does not look like we going to get rain anytime soon. I pray for rain everyday.

    I have tried to make adjustments to little rain by using newspaper mulch as much as I can, Shade netting over any lettuce and other delicate plants. Have also planted lots of tomatoes... Listening to what you said about last years drought and what to plant.

    Anyway best of luck with veggies and heat!! It would be very interesting to see a mid season update of the weather report.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Ross - it’s been a long time! :)
    Oh noos! Unfortunately, we still haven't found any ritual or dance to bring some rain either - and it's amazing to see how many people are totally oblivious of the fact that our rain and water situation is a crisis...
    Luckily, my rain tanks are still holding out! The vegetable garden is growing, but not very well... so much for the 'La Nina' event I heard some meteorologists bragging about. I only sowed beginning of this month as I didn't want to plant too early should the rain be so late again (and I had a sneaky feeling that the tail end of the El Nino wasn't over yet). So I am also on the tomato drought gardening plan (which includes lots of carrots, beets, peppers and onions too LOL!) - oh wow, we are gonna have lots of tomatoes and carrots this year... Anyways, I haven't replaced any of the plants we lost and I haven’t planted out the vegetable cage either - trying to preserve as much rainwater for the already established plants. You could try some grey water to fill in the gaps (that from the shower, dish washing cycle or washing machine, cooked vegetable or pasta water), we grab the washing machine outlet pipe and re-direct the water to 120 L drums. It is not ideal for the long term, but if you use low phosphate (and salt) washing powder everything should be fine.
    Hope that helps & Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey...yes been a long time. Ya people are so slow to grasp this... I have been trying to tell people they need to change. So far all I have got is work colleague to use bath water to water garden. Still gonna try thou.
    LOL we are going to have lots of tomatoes & carrots. Best of luck. They say maybe some rain this weekend.:)

    Thanks for the ideas with grey water... So far use the bucket in the shower and I wash my hands in water that I leave in the basin, so I can get a few washes of the hands. Even trying to flush the toilet less. Also going to try and redirect washing machine water for garden like you have into buckets. Ugh but ya lets hope for rain.

    Thanks and same to you.
    Keep well.

    ReplyDelete

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