Rain in Spring

Spring isn’t usually that wet in Perth, but it was in September and the start of October (the sun’s arrived in force this past week).

Perth had 100.6mm of rain in September, more than the average of 89.3mm. And there were a couple more rainy days (rainfall more than 1mm) than usual, 13 as opposed to the average of 11 days.

Despite the adequate rainfall in Perth, the rest of Australia is not fairing so well.

Rainfall deficits have expanded and intensified over the southern half of the country as a result of widespread below to very much below average September rainfall…Record low falls for this particular 12-month period were recorded just to the east of Melbourne, and along WA’s west coast between Shark Bay and Geraldton.

Rainfall deficiencies in Australia October 2006-September 2007

The Bureau of Meteorology continues,

These deficiencies have occurred against a backdrop of multi-year rainfall deficits and record high temperatures that have severely stressed water supplies in the east and southwest of the country. Several years of above average rainfall are required to remove the very long-term deficits. Furthermore, the combination of heat and drought during the past five to ten years over the Murray Darling Basin and southeastern Australia, is outside the typical range of variability experienced during the previous 100 years.

October begins Perth’s (not very restrictive) summer water restrictions on household sprinkler use. My dad asked me the other day if I would be turning on my reticulation. I don’t want to, but when I said I wanted to save water, he replied that there’s been more rainfall this year than this time last year. He’s my landlord and wants the lawn to stay green over summer. What to do? I’ll just have to dig up more of the lawn and use my two days a week of reticulation on edible plants. (Of course I turn off the reticulation if it’s been raining or is about to.)

For subsequent lawn conversions visitor Calli suggested I look at the pics of Len’s straw bale garden. Sheet mulching is discussed by Bill Mollison in his various books and Canberran Hilary Cadman uses the method in her permaculture garden. My dad’s used it on top of parts of his lawn and I half-heartedly tried it a couple of years ago at a previous house.

Sheeba the dog’s running took two years to make a good trench for my recent lawn conversion, but after September’s rain all the grass seeds came up in my new vegie bed, making weeding work for me. I don’t want extra digging or grass popping up for the rest of the lawn so I will use newspaper sheet mulching. Although I’m still not going to do all the lawn because I like a bit of grass to wash the dog and lie on my sun lounge.


Offline sources

  1. Mollison, Bill (1988) Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual. Tyalgum NSW: Tagari Publications.
  2. Mollison, Bill (1994) Introduction to Permaculture. Tyalgum NSW: Tagari Publications.
  3. Woodrow, Linda (1996) The Permaculture Home Garden. Ringwood Vic: Viking.

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