Talk of drought conditions developing in eastern areas between Gisborne and Canterbury raises the question of what the trend is here in Tawa.
Tawa home gardeners have commented about drying soils and the need for regular watering as they get their summer vege patches established. There has been a noticeable drying trend, made more obvious by a typically wet October.
However, the first three weeks of November 2007, whilst dry, have not been particularly so. November 2005 was a particularly dry month, and no rain was recorded by Tawa Weather during the first 21 days of the month. November 2006 was a stormy month for much of central New Zealand, with a man being killed by a falling tree at Hanmer Springs, and 118 mm was recorded at Tawa during the first 3 weeks of the month.
This year 43 mm of rain has been recorded during the first 21 days of November. Garden soil is noticeably dry, but the many calmer days that have been recorded at Tawa confirm that the absence of drying winds is a benefit to home vege gardeners.
However, it is a mixed bag, and cool calm nights are still being experienced, making the establishment of pea crops in particular a bit of a challenge. Unlike capsicums and tomatoes which are usually started indoors, peas are sown staright into the garden plot. Cold nights, like the 4 ºC recorded at Tawa overnight, can check germination if the topsoil cools too quickly.
At least two local gardeners are scratching their heads over the odd behaviour of the peas this year, at first blaming poor seed. Further investigation indicates that the varied results may be due to the choice of site and composition of the topsoil which is exposing the seed to rapid cooling overnight.
The race is now on to be the first household to be able to sit in the pea patch popping pods of the little green beauties and hoovering them up while Mum barks “Leave some for dinner!” at us from the kitchen window.