1.. Most of the garden has survived on it's regular watering, but you get some emergencies. There is one chilli plant in full sun which got very shrivelled, but a couple of days or watering has brought it back. Please note -chilli won't germinate unless it is over 30C, and it generally looks fabulous in hot weather, but this is weather is extreme. Roses are pretty cheery too, even if the flower crisps and dries in one day. The grapes are fine with the hot weather. I have been giving the eureka lemon some extra water because it really was stressed. Don't know if it is going to pull through.
We are still harvesting blueberries, and some eggplants, and herbs, grapes and rhubarb.
The little pond in the wine barrel, tucked in shade under the patio, still loses a lot of water through evaporation! I am topping it up every 2 days.
WORMS - I nearly lost all of the worm farm, but read about a technique of putting bottles of frozen water in the farm to cool things down and so far they are still alive. I also throw a wet hessian coffee sack over them to try to keep them cool.
We have had tiny ants trying to get in the house -and anywhere else they might find moisture and coolness. It takes a bit extra diligence to make sure there are no places they can make ingress.
The local birds are heat stressed! We have a lot of water bowls out for them, and in this weather we need to refresh them in the middle of the day. Birds I don't normally see are now coming into the garden for water. These big trees to the west of us, in the Council owned walkway, are wonderful! In the late afternoon, from about 4:30pm, they cast a shade over the house and bring the temperature down immediately. Mature trees and green spaces help to cool communities by as much as 10 degrees and the shade they provide cools our homes and streets.
Our older cat is not really interested in eating much at the moment. I guess I understand that! She is sleeping in the coolest place she can find.
2. We probably will need a RCAC or some other kind of air conditioning soon. Up till now, with Perth's usual pattern of just a day or two of extreme heat before a cool change, the passive cooling strategies we have taken have kept us pretty comfortable. In a week of hot weather, however, the house just heats up, and it doesn't get cool if the overnight temperature doesn't drop very much. We have shade sails, we have a grape pergola on the north side, we have extra insulation, we have thermal curtains. We operate this house like a yacht- we open to the breeze, we close against the heat, but it isn't enough.
This may in fact be the new normal for Perth- climate change is making every extreme 'more extreme'. Cold is colder, hotter is hotter and for longer. Drought goes on and on, or rain brings floods.
Of course the very worst time to try to buy airconditioning is during a heat wave! There are no stocks in the shops, due to transport problems due to COVID, and the installers are flat out. We are thinking of installing a split system to service just our bedroom and our daughter's bedroom, as it is the heat overnight which is really debilitiating. If we can do that, then a "swampy" - an evaporative air conditioner- would be something we would add to the rest of the house at a later date. I am swinging wildly in opinions about the best options here, and continue to do research. I need some quotes for installing systems which will work here before I decide.
I found some good stories here, that you may wish to check out
A lovely story of permaculture in indigenous communities in our North West of WA Here