The Gordon Gnohm

Play along at home, read Future Farmer in The Braidwood Bugle every Wednesday. 

Welcome to 2024 – Forecast

Its been a relatively uneventful start to the year, if you don’t count the 200+mm of rain we’ve had since the week before Christmas. The rain that started just after the long hot dry summer forecast was proclaimed. 

Back in the day

When I was a young lad, we used to joke about the best jobs to have as an adult. Policemen, politician, sports stars, the regular suspects. But me, I always thought that being a weatherman was the go. 

After all, the weatherman could turn up to work and get it wrong and he would still keep his job. What other workplace would tolerate such poor performance?

Back then, weather folk were reading analogue data, using personal experience and best guessing, a place where art met science. But they could be relied on to get it right most of the time. So why is it so hard to get the weather forecast correct in the modern digital age?

Poor Forecast

The weather bots have been collating digital data for some time now. The data points are spaced around the world for a very good look ahead. AI is now driving the forecast machine, in conjunction with the human weather folk, but the results are getting worse.

The long hot dry summer forecast compelled prudent farmers into action to mitigate the risk ahead. Farmers sold their stock to avoid $$$ in baled feed. The stock was worthless at market because it was flooded with farmers who had the same plan. Those same farmers are now buying back stock to graze on the grass that summer delivered. 

Plans Spoiled 

Other Farmers increased bale production to meet the needs of the long hot dry summer. Unfortunately, bales were not tarped, so the ensuing rain spoiled them where they were made. Driving round our region shows just how many farmers got caught out by the forecast.

If you have spoiled lucerne (or know a farmer who does) please get in touch, Ill take as much as I can and put it to good use. 

If you’d like some spoiled lucerne, let me know and I’ll hook you up.

I know business owners in Canberra who laid of mowing staff because of the forecast. They are now chasing their tail to keep up and having to find new seasonal staff. One chap sold his business because he thought it would be too tough to ride out the summer.

The knock on effects from the backwards forecast are currently untallied, but the toll of financial loss is evident. How could our national forecaster be so wrong?

The bureaucrats are fobbing it off as climate change, harder to forecast future events blah blah… but the reality is they made the forecast, then very shortly afterwards it rained for weeks. And the forecast didn’t change. Did anyone look out the window? 

It rained up until xmas, as I diligently tried to finish a project. The holidays were like Groundhog Day out here in the foothills of Bombay. Thunderstorms brewing every 2-3 days. Fat rain events then hope for dry times, then again with the thunderstorm, rain then hope and more thunderstorms. It got well too boggy to be productive outside.

The Weirdest Thing

I thought thunderstorms occurred because of heat buildup, that’s why they only happen in summer. Over Christmas/Newyears the temp never climbed much above the 20s, so why the thunderstorms?

I moved to my hills because I prefer a low humidity summer. The past 4 years have been purely tropical. It has been good not watering during summer, but if the monsoon weather keeps up, I guess we could almost become banana country. 

The berry battles were entertaining, sharing the bounty with the currawongs until one morning I went out to feast. The berry bushes were totally covered in Crimson Rosellas. There were no berries left. They cleaned them all up. And that was that. 

This week

Im glad I was eating tomatoes all December, because January has been a real let down. The bushes are full of fruit waiting for some heat to ripen. Ive ripened a few on the windowsill, but even that has taken sometime. That’s why its super important to get your timing right for your tomatoes, plant them early and ignore the urban myths.

Corn is on right now, its tasty and juicy as could be. Im eating corn from my second year bed. It has 2 ears per stalk which I though was pretty good. The 3rd year bed produces corn with 1 ear per stalk. Kinda what youd expect from corn, right?

The big discovery this year, was the corn I planted at Bellchambers Produce in a first year bed, has out preformed everything. This corn has averaged 3 ears per stalk. Ive never planted corn in a first year bed, tomatoes always taking priority. This new data proves that corn could always be planted in a first year bed from now on, to harvest more ears, if I have room.

At this point of summer, all the garden beds are full of foliage (a living mulch) protecting the soil and mulch from the elements. Densely planting always works better, leaving no room for unwanted plants to sneak in. Its been 4 years of freaky soft summers, so water loss hasn’t been too bad.

Basil has loved the wet and is mostly engulfed by tomato bushes, as are the cucumbers. Rosella Hibscus plants have missed the heat but are finally flowering. The eggplants have surprisingly produced decent fruit. This confuses me, because eggplants love the heat. Breeding on our hill for the past few years may have changed our eggplant genetics. 

Dahlias

Flowers are amazing at the moment, especially the dahlias. I plant all sorts of flowers in the garden, not just for the pollinators. Some are just for me, and Ive learnt something valuable by planting them in nutrient rich soil alongside the vegetables. 

When I was a young gardener in Canberra, I would always have to stake the dahlias for clients to prevent them falling over. I found it unattractive and felt at the time it was silly to breed a flower that needed staking. Nutrient dense soil solved that problem, I shouldn’t be surprised. My dahlias stand up tall on their own, and my friend who passed them to me has had the same experience in the garden I built for her.

Also, an expert dahlia grower recommended pinching out the first buds to encourage more flowers. I haven’t found this to be the case in nutrient dense soil either. Each stalk has 10-15 flower heads on it at a time in varying states of bloom. I couldn’t ask for more. Good living soil solves lots of growing problems and my ecosystem garden is thriving because of it.

Happy harvesting,

Stay awesome

The Gordon Gnohm

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top