Northern Queensland Permaculture

Revolution disguised as gardening

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Rainwater tank sizing tsv_rainwater_calculator-v1.xlsx Can be used for initial estimates of water usage

Townsville Climate

  • Yearly monsoonal rains of varying strengths, with infrequent unreliable rain from storms in the summer
  • Little to no rain remainder of the year
  • Savannah type landscape. Grasslands with gums and acacia, though some suburbs are built on former mashes and wetlands
  • Tropical humidity & heat in summer
  • Mild winters, often not cold enough for cool flowering trees and shrubs

Townsville will get most of it's annual rain over three months, and usually in one large weather system such as a cyclone or rain bands. For the remainder of the year it's dry and arid and humidity drops after the summer months have passed. It could be said that Townsville climate is a mixture of the arid drylands and tropical landscapes. Techniques that apply to both these areas apply to Townsville. Use of a mixuture will benefit your garden.

Kitchen Gardens in Townsville

  • Winter months for traditional vegetables and fruits
  • Summer months for Asian or non traditional vegetables and fruits

By far the most appropriate time for traditional European vegetables is during the dry low humidity periods of the year that extend usually from April onwards to November when humidity and heat is within a suitable band. This is the time to grow your favourite vegetables and fruits with minimal disruption from pests and disease. Irrigation is necessary as it usually won't rain, and the sun angle remains relatively high even throughout the dry period of the year so no special orientation of beds or heat capture methods are necessary (usually). Your usual dry period diseases arrive, powdery mildews, Downey mildews etc.

During summer, all insects and molds increase in their growth and most traditional vegetables will not survive or produce a yield. Shade is essential to any vegetable garden in summer as most traditional plants will not survive the intense heat and dry between the rains.

Strategies
  • Water runoff collection and storage in tanks, as well as the ground using swales.
  • Selection of trees that don't require cold periods to flower, can tolerate extended dry times as well as high humidity in the wet
  • Selection of smaller plants that can tolerate, or prefer high humidity in summer, and irrigated throughout the dry period
  • Mulching and covering of soil when evaporation exceeds rainfall which is most of the year in Townsville
  • Wicking beds
  • Grey water usage: Banana circles with lemon grass, taro, cassava, ginger, paw-paw, sweet potato interplanted.

Water is precious in Townsville

The town water supply is somewhat reliant on consistent wet seasons year after year to recharge the catchment and back country for municipal water. During years of poor or below average rainfall it's not uncommon for water restrictions by the Council to be imposed. Any trees or extended garden outside a kitchen garden need to have mechanisms built into them to coast them through these dry periods when lots of irrigation is not necessarily possible using town water supply.

Collections of large numbers of trees and shrubs not adapted to dry periods on minimal water are best not planted in Townsville, if solely reliant on irrigation from town water. If bore water is available use sparingly and with care, to prevent depletion as well as soil salt build ups if present in the water.

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