Start of Winter: Earth begins to freeze

May 15th, 2012
by Jo Law

During the past 5 days, both the monthly lowest minimum of 8.5ºC and the lowest maxiumum of 16.6ºC were recorded on May 14th at Bellambi (AWS). The Chinese Almanac tells of a much harsher winter to come as earth begins to freeze at the start of winter. In comparison, the Australian winter is much milder with the Southern Ocean tempering much of the cold polar air. Earth has not begun to freeze in the Illawarra (nor will this be likely) but the air has began to dry.

The combination of low humidity, wearing of woolens, and heating is making my skin feel dry. Likewise, despite the high rainfall of the preceding months, the garden is showing signs of requiring extra moisture. The soil in our raised beds is largely built up from animal manure, green manure, and compost, which requires replenishing after every planting. One and a half metre below this top humus is hard clay.

Australian soils in general are deficient in nutrients and organic matter, particularly important for  the growing of culinary fruits and vegetables. Phophorous, iodine, potassium and trace elements are notably missing. Australia is geological very stable. The continent sits in the middle of a tectonic plate with very little seismic or volcanic activities. It has the oldest rock in the world and our soils are derived from aged granite erosion. Besides some flood plains and pockets of land that benefitted from volcanic activities in the distant past (mainly the southeastern part of Australia about 10 million years ago), soils are poor. And unlike lands in the northern hemisphere, Australia has not been enriched by glaciation, which add ground up rock (minerals) to the soil, for 300 million years.

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