It was a mostly Sunny Saturday at Earlwood Farm with intermittent clouds and a light breeze. We probably had a maximum temperature of around 23 degrees centigrade. The jet fuel stench from the airport 2kms SE was minimal, unlike the days where the clouds are hanging low and the wind is blowing in the right direction and it smells like we are standing on the East – West runway. The farm is perched atop a hill and has vantage over large swathes of Greater Sydney. Today we can report uninterrupted views to Chatswood in the north, to the CBD in the North-North-East and to Bondi Junction in the North-East. On other days, however, the views are compromised. Several factors cause this interruption. Sometimes Chatswood looks like an urban mirage on the horizon, such as during the early bushfires in the Blue Mountains in October 2013 and the smoke was blown towards the City by hot westerly wind. Other times the majesty of the concrete jungle CBD is dwarfed by giant cumulonimbus towers that accumulate over the ocean behind it and break into wild storms, with lightning so powerful that it makes the lights left burning in the office towers look like crappy little LEDs in a cheap torch. Then there are the mornings where Sydney remembers it’s a basin and fills with cloud and you can’t even see the houses down by the Cooks River, 100 metres to the north. We cannot see Paramatta to the North West, because the view to the North-West is always interrupted by a very large gum tree, resting point for many birds and bats, and which a neighbour once unashamedly claimed he would happily poison if it was interrupting his view.
There was no precipitation to speak of today, but we have had some good rain this spring and this combined with the warmer days and, thus, warmer soil temperatures has been very good for the garden. Trees that seemed dead only weeks ago now are budding, the tarragon which we thought we killed by under-watering it over the dry winter has re-sprouted and a blue tounge lizard has set up house near one of the veggie patches and is keeping the snail population at bay, making our lettuce crop abundant.
Recently in a conversation with a colleague I was told she didn’t like eating the greens from her garden because, living in Wollongong, the wind always blew coal dust from the fossilised plants waiting to be shipped out of Port Kembla and finely coating her plants. I commented that I imagine that wind blows invisible particles from the Turrella Stack that is barely 200 metres to the south east, coating our greens too, but happily the particles are out of sight out of mind. But bushfires, which will likely become more frequent as the temperatures rise, dump ash on the produce and block out the sun. Also, extreme heat events will kill the salad mix, the new growth on many of the trees and cause mass death amongst the local bat population at Wolli Creek – a keystone species integral for the healthy functioning of the entirety of Australia’s ecosystem. While we will do what we can to keep our lettuce alive during these events, with shade cloth and good watering morning and night, there isn’t much we can do for the bats. Fortunately tomorrow is supposed to be a relatively average spring day, like today, where we can rest easy and pretend we aren’t living in a hot house that’s getting hotter with each 747 take-off.
This report was written for The People’s Weather Report