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I ran away from teaching to the country to grow veggies. There are also some chooks and a pair of troublesome goats who were so much trouble they had to go! My simple green life isn't always as simple or as green as I'd like...but I keep trying!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Four Seasons in One Day

We are in midldle of Winter at the moment.  Well, and here is an anomaly, because Australia is such a big continent it has different climactic regions.  This is obvious if you follow a few Aussie gardening blogs ... we are all planting different things.  Up north, north of the Tropic of Capricorn it is very different to down here in the South....check out this map.  


I live just below the 'O' in word 'Victoria' in the south-east corner of the big island.

Winter, is officially all of June, July and August.  The four season model is one that was imported with the first white settlers but with a slight change.  Somehow New Zealand and Australia do not follow the practice in other countries of using the solstices as a marker for Winter and Summer and the equinoxes for Spring and Autumn.   

But this is the interesting thing to me....The indigenous people, always much more in sync with their environment, have different seasonal models for their regions.

The Wurundjeri have 
a six season model 
for the Melbourne region.

Like many native peoples the traditional inhabitants here did not have a written language.  The length of the days and the seasonal changes in the night sky provide pointers to the time of the year along with the changes to plants and animals. Click on the above diagram to see a clearer version and scroll down to to see an explanation of what happens in each season and how it affected the movements of the indigenous people in the area.

The indigenous model makes wonderful sense... but it doesn't work for my veggie garden.   June, for instance, is often dry and is certainly warmer, in my experience than July and August when it can be very cold and the soil, particularly so.  In June I can still plant brassica seedlings, other greens and root crops.  In July the only thing that will germinate and grow are snow peas.  Although by August, I can start seeds inside for planting out in late September, once the ground begins to warm.

Ouch! The irony just hit me 
in the head like a wood splitter.  

Here I am writing about growing 'exotic' vegetable species, and an 'exotic' four season model in a land far removed from their countries of origin discussing a seasonal model developed by people much older and wiser in the ways of this country than me...and on a blog about being green and environmentally aware.  

Mmm!  I have to go and think about this some more.

Postscript:  It is NAIDOC week.
Click on NAIDOC to find out more and to see what is on in your area.


  1. I love the wheel, will have to study it. Your right we grow food that the traditional inhabitants never knew about. And im sure most need much more water than the local food does to produce. I never realised this either. you are very clever.

  2. I wouldn't stress about the irony. Yes, we could learn from the seasonal relationships indigenous to our location. But we are talking totally different models.

    Today we are harvesting from a tiny footprint in comparison to the large areas covered out of necessity to provide for nutrition in traditional times. At the same time we would all do well to learn about plants we could use in our small patches that would provide greens, herbs and fruits.

    And welcome to NAIDOC week. As an aside, some of the Traditional Owners I work with are looking at trademarking their knowledge of 'bush tucker' to provide employment and income opportunities.

  3. I love the indigenous calendar of the seasons - so much wiser and more accurate than the Western one we use.
    I'm trying to find the equivalent for Queensland, because our seasons are different again.

  4. A few month's ago I did some research on our own indigenous food plants and found that many appear to be extinct and virtually none are available commercially. It is sad that the Europeans have stamped their identity so forcefully on so many countries and in so many areas of life. The indigenous people lived a much more sustainable life, taking only what they need and leaving enough for the future. As urbanisation spreads all this knowledge of the land is lost.

  5. maybe we should all plant a little bush tucker section in our gardens in honour of the Original Owners of this land


  7. I was thinking the same thing but using the land along the creek out the back. Thanks for the CERES link. Aren't thy fantastic! I have purchased plants from La Trobe University for school before:
    Maybe a few if us should go in together. I bet Phoebe at Ballynoe Cottage would be interested in replanting her creek bank too. That would cut it to 100 plants each at wholesale prices. There may be more people interested to....Anyone out there in the Melbourne area interested? Let me know.

  8. Ha ha, very funny! And the wheel would look different again in my area just under the second "a" in Tasmania. For me true winter is July August September and really, although we all rush to do it, there is no point planting spring crops till the end of October. *sigh* at least we are not covered in snow. Lee (Killiecrankie Farm" gave me some AWESOME Italian lettuce seeds for winter planting and I am totally in love. We have been having the most gorgeous salads with them. A little bit of lush life in the mouth. Definitely saving some seeds for next year.

  9. For NAIDOC week at school we have an aboriginal food tasting day and have things like abalone, kangaroo, and mutton bird. Ours is on Thursday. The kids get right into it.


  10. Mutton bird and abalone(paua in NZ) is so delishous

  11. I will be happy to eat the gathered food...don't need any hunted stuff...LOL I bet there weren't any indigenous vegetarians.

  12. For sometime I have been trying to get my dirty little hands on an Aboriginal calender of the Tandanya (Adelaide) area. Anyone got any ideas of where I could look?

  13. It's really interesting to read about your seasons, I've always just blindly assumed they were opposite to ours. Not that we really have seasons any more - we qualify Summer with "British Summer" which means it's pretty much like the rest of the year, just a bit warmer ;)


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