Psychedelic Garden Love

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.

A huge ‘dome of heat’ over Australia has broken temperature records, and this heat has been so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to create new colours for their charts, which had previously been capped at 50°C. Deep red has now been followed by a new deep purple. Bush fires have been raging across the country – a sign of a warming world, the impacts of which are destined only to intensify.

While urban areas are less prone to the risks of fire in such circumstances, my poor vegetable garden suffers terribly when we face extended periods of extreme heat. In my small corner of the world, this has called for some ‘Psychedelic Garden Love’. It’s not what you might think — much less interesting, but still very important.

I’m talking about making garden shade cloth out of bright old sheets from the secondhand shop. Out of love for our garden, yesterday my partner sewed together many old sheets and attached ties, which we then strung up around our dear garden to protect it from the sun which has been scorching our veges. Without shade cloth in these temperatures, all our hard work would be frizzled away.

Shade cloth from a hardware store is very expensive, especially if you were to buy enough to cover an entire vegetable garden. Second-hand sheets, however, do the trick perfectly, and you can usually pick them up for a dollar or two. Sew them together to create shade cloth, and attach them to the fence, poles, house, etc with hooks.

This has become a necessary practice for us, and I suspect that increasingly people around the world are going to have to practice similar shading techniques in order to save their crops from the hot spells. The upside is that your garden assumes a psychedelic feel for a few days, as the bright sheets flap around in the wind in your backyard. It looks like a stoned hippy has parachuted into your backyard from outer space, or a hot air balloon has crash-landed.

Your neighbours will think you have lost your marbles, but your vegetables will love you for it.