Monday, July 11, 2011

Frost: the case of the survival of the fittest

There's something very cleansing about of frost, especially six in a row. This sequence has occurred in Mitchell over the past week, with -4.9°C yesterday and -4.2°C this morning. The weather bureau predicts at least two more frosts this week. I like to think of the below 0°C temperatures sterilising the soil, killing parasites, bacteria and many of the pests that attack garden plants and pastures grazed by sheep and cattle.

This morning, Major licked and then nose-butted a sheet of 10 mm thick ice that had formed in his water bowl. And then, in the joy of the moment, he grabbed a chunk of ice in his mouth and bounded across the frosted grass, challenging Del to chase him. Which she did!

On my walk this afternoon, the grass was brittle dry and crunched underfoot. The earth was so dry, every step raised a little puff of dust.

Here in outback Queensland I have succulents that are remarkably hardy. They survive frost and extreme dryness throughout winter; and then during summer, rain and extreme heat. On the other hand, the recent frosts have either killed or badly damaged several plants in our garden, including the geisha girl shown in the photo. Yet, Doug's lettuces, spinach, cabbages and broccoli are thriving.

What I love about frosty mornings in outback Queensland is that they are followed by still sunny days.

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