Zucchini and growing veggies on a hot, dry and windy site

barlewsAugust 2, 2012

Hi

We have retired to the island of Rhodes in Greece and gardening here is a whole new ball game with the heat and wind especially after having lived in Scotland with its continuous rain. I think we are about zone 11 with only a frost every few years, with torrential rain January to March with hot days in between. The wind can be horrendous and as we live on the brow of a hill it comes from all directions, most often from the south but the worst ones come from the west and at this time of year they are hot causing the garden to look like autumn as some plants shed their leaves. We have about a half acre so shading it all is impossible and we are just having to accept we cannot grow a lot of the exotic plants that we were looking forward to growing.

Although a keen gardener in the UK, we have never grown vegetables other than tomatoes in growbags. Our first year of growing vegetables was a disaster - we lost everything after hail almost the size of golf balls flattened our newly planted seeds and dented our car. (It was a very unusual experience we are told) Decided it was not worth the effort as vegetables are reasonably cheap here in season.

This year we decided to give it one more try but with conflicting advice, I think we got the timing wrong and need to start earlier and transplant out in March.

We have been watching an elderly greek man who has a smallholding nearby who speaks little English and until this year has had wonderful veggies but this year he keeps saying "catastroff" as all his veggies were eaten by a swarm of we think he is saying large cricket type insects. They were further up the island last year and he hopes they will move on next year. Although only half a mile away we were unaffected and were able to give him some plants.

Next year we will start a lot earlier and make a permanent structure for shading as the winds keep blowing off the various temporary methods we use. Any ideas that will keep it firmly in place but still be easily removed would be appreciated.

The other problem is that we are thinking of installing a drip irrigation sysyem. I understand the principals but as I am told crop rotation is important, what is right the first year is going to be wrong the following year. We are intending to grow smaller vegetables in 2ft blocks with staggered planting and grow larger plants on sturdy trellis, namely tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, zucchini and eggplants. How do others design around the problem?

About three weeks ago our neighbour was planting zucchini and cucumber seeds indicating they would be sturdy plants that he would plant out towards the end of September and they would be cropping until the rains came in January. He has them alongside his large shed.

I planted zuchinni in pots and kept them on the patio in dappled light. They came up in a matter of days and grew about an inch a day and inspite of turning daily they are now flopping over. I cannot put them out in the sun with temperatures around 40 centrigrade. Is there anything I can do with them or do I have to start again and where do I put them next time.

Any advice from more experienced veggie gardeners would be appreciated but remember we do not have the luxury of large garden and DIY centres. I read somewhere that the Greek garden market is the worst in Europe. They have the idea that land is for growing olive trees and vegetables and few bother with more than a vine over the patio, a bougainvillea, oleanders and a few potted plants.

Thanks

Barlews

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optimistique(8a)

I can help with the drip irrigation. We rotate each year as well, so we decided to install our emitters every foot. This basically waters the entire bed, as the root ball of a plant is much wider than its stem anyway. Also if your plants are very far apart; say 3', you can use a goof plug in place of the unneeded emitter for that season. We do this with each new planting. Another option could be using a soaker hose instead of emitters, but we found that they don't release near enough water. We are in the heat of Texas and a soaker hose just is not adequate.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 12:47PM
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barlews

Thanks for the information. That makes a lot of sense.
What do you do for protection from the sun?
We have problems with high and sometimes hot winds so everything we have tried blows away or is ripped off.
Thanks
barlews

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 3:40AM
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