10 Tips on How to Have a Successful Desert Vegetable Garden in the Heat of Summer

John from http://www.growingyourgreens.com/ shares with you his 10 reasons why he has been successful gardening in 117 degree dry, desert heat, when others have not. This episode will be of value if you live in the desert or not as these tips can be applied for every gardener no matter where you live. After watching this episode you will know 10 proven methods to improve your organic vegetable garden whether you live in the desert or anywhere else.

Skyrail. View towards the coast north of Cairns.The departure station is shown one the level ground.
The Kuranda Railway and the Skyrail.
Construction began in 1886 but there was a long struggle to get to that point. Cairns was not the first place to be considered for an inland railway. In 1882 both Cairns and Port Douglas formed railway committees to lobby for a railway from their port. Then Innisfail joined the competition! The government sent Christie Palmerston, a prospector, explorer and adventurer to explore all three sites. He had previously cut a track through the rainforests from Port Douglas to the Herberton tin mines on the Arthurton tablelands. He also created a road from Innisfail to Herberton. He worked closely with Aboriginal people in his endeavours and he moved to Townsville in 1886 living there until he died a few years later. He recommended Cairns for the new rail terminal in 1884. It was a further two years before the rail work began. Getting a rail line up through the Barron River Gorge was a great engineering feat and it was all accomplished with hand pick and shovel. No wonder it took 5 years of work for the rail line to reach what is now Kuranda. The goal was to reach Mareeba which it did 2 years later in 1893.

The rail contract was split into three sections with different contractors for each. The first section had easy gradients nevertheless it took three different contractors to succeed in crossing the swamps which were more difficult than imagined. It took government workers to finish off this first easy section in 1887! The middle sector was the most difficult as it covered the main climb of over 300 metres to the top of the ranges. A contractor began this difficult task in 1887. Up to 1,500 men worked on this part of the track with at least one death. The section required 15 tunnels, 93 bends and dozens of bridges, yet the contractor finished on time in 1891. Meantime work had started on the third section to Kuranda which was finished a few weeks after section two. The line opened with fanfare in June 1891. After reaching Mareeba it was a further 12 years- 1910- before the line was extended even further to Herberton tin mines. The early rail freight from Kuranda included coffee, butter, milk, and timber. Mareeba in the Atherton tablelands has a mild climate- 920 mm of rain a year, with temperatures varying from an average of 11 for July minimum to 32 November maximum. It is still a dairying district.

Skyrail cableway train was a much easier project! But there was much controversy surrounding its construction through the Barron Gorge National Park which is part of the World Heritage listed Queensland Rainforest site. Fears about damage to the rainforest meant it took 7 years to get planning approval for the project after numerous environmental impact surveys and appeals and changes to the designs. Unlike the Kuranda railway, construction was the easy part. It took just over a year to erect the towers for the cables to support the railcars. Four Skyrail stations were constructed allowing passengers to get off and walk around each area. The Barron Falls Station is the best as you get wonderful views of the impressive Barron River Falls. The Falls drop around 260 metres hence in 1935 a hydro-electric power station to harness that energy was built. The map above shows how the Skyrail route crosses the rail track a couple of times. Since its opening this impressive and easy way of looking at the rainforest has won dozens of Australian tourism awards and four international tourism awards. In the rainforest beneath the Skyrail you should be able to see Birds-nest and Elkhorn ferns, and native Sandalwood, Candlenut and Corkwood trees.

This Atherton Tablelands town has a population of 1,600 people. The town was established just a few years before the railway line reached Kuranda and although coffee was an important early industry, forestry and timber have been an ongoing industries. Today it relies heavily on tourism and people wanting an “alternative” lifestyle- hence the numerous craft and art shops in the town. The Djabujay Aboriginal people have lived in the area for over 10,000 years and they now support the Indigenous Dance Theatre troupe which performs daily for tourists. Kuranda is often referred to as the village in the rainforest. You will have a little free time in Kuranda for some browsing, shopping and tea drinking before we catch the last afternoon train back to Cairns, from the Railway Station (built in 1915). We will be advised of the train departure time on the day.

Although we go no further into the Tablelands they are an important geographic region. Mareeba has 7,000 people, Atherton (home town of former QLD Premier Peter Beattie) has over 7,000 and Herberton has over 1,000 people. The Tablelands Regional Council has a population of almost 50,000 people as it is such a rich agricultural region. The Council headquarters are in Mareeba. Lake Eacham is a huge lake, created by past volcanic activity. Although no rivers currently flow into the lake its water levels are maintained by the high rainfall. The district around the lake and town has around 6,000 people. So the rich volcanic soils, the moderated tropical climate because of the high altitude and the high rainfall makes this Tableland region one of Australia’s richest agricultural areas. The tablelands are known for their sugar cane, peanuts, cashews, pineapples, coffee, mangoes, potatoes, avocados, macadamia nuts, milk, butter, cheese, corn, lettuces, tomatoes and other vegetables (pumpkin) and beef cattle. Tin mining in Herberton continued for almost 100 years finally ceasing in 1978. Further out on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands is Chillagoe, a former copper, lead, silver, gold and zinc mining township with a smelter works. The smelter works closed in 1950. Chillagoe is known for 1,000 caves in the karst limestone landscape of the district. 300 kms out from Cairns on the Atherton Tablelands is Undara lava tubes park. They are the most extensive outflows of volcanic lava in the world, and the massive lava caves are exceptional. The vast amounts of molten lava flowed down from the volcano cone as the outer crust cooled and hardened but the lava was flowing so quickly that the insides of the flows continued flowing until the great tubes or caves were left empty. So the Atherton Tableland is also a rich area in terms of geology and natural features.

By denisbin on 2012-07-17 15:24:34