Preparing Your Garden for Summer
Gardening through the seasons can certainly present challenges, and no more so than through the summer months. Clay soils which are common around the store can dry and crack; soils heaped with organics can become water repellent; and hot days and winds can dry and burn plants. With the bureau forecasting a hot, dry summer, there are a number of things you can do which will help your garden thrive.
- If you didn't do it over winter, apply compost or seamungus as soil conditioners to your garden beds.
- Apply a layer of mulch to a depth of 3-5cm, being sure to keep mulch away from trunks of plants. Use anything you can get your hands on .... think pea straw, bark chips, specially formulated mulches, even meadow hay if you have it
- Use a soil wetter. There are lots on the market, organic and non organic. They all work, but I personally find the granular soil wetters easier to apply ... try Saturaid or Wettasoil. Soil wetters are particularly helpful for gardeners who have used fine organic matter year in year out, and are now finding their soils have become water repellent. Organic gardeners may wish to use Eco Hydrate.
- Just prior to very hot spells apply Droughtshield. It dries clear and acts as an anti-transpirant and 'sunscreen'. Only apply as needed, and not more frequently than 8 weeks apart on plants with normal growth. Applying Droughtshield to plants like hydrangeas, camellias and so on will assist in reducing sunburn damage, and it will also help in hot dry winds.
- Shade plants with 50% white shade cloth, or protect them from hot drying winds with 'frost cloth'. You will find both in drive-through of the store.
- Group plants with like water requirements ... pop those together which need daily watering, weekly watering, or no supplementary watering at all, and you will find it reduces your work load, and the plants will do better too.
- Be water wise - water deeply and less often, rather than for short periods each day. Check your watering system, fix any leaks and always use appropriate drippers.
- Water away from the heat of the day - evening watering suits many plants, but to avoid fungal diseases in your garden (for example on roses or in your veggie patch on zucchini) an early morning water is better.
- When planting out over summer, dig holes twice as wide as the pot and fill the hole with a bucket of water. Let the water drain away and fill it again. Once the second bucket of water has drained away pop your plant in, being sure to water it in with a seaweed solution, and continue applying Seasol every fortnight for a month or two. Applying a spray of Droughtshield will further protect your newly planted treasures against transplant shock and get them off to a good start.
- If you are planting up a veggie patch consider installing a wicking bed or using a self watering pot. These beds are very efficient at using water, and productive plants like veggies and herbs thrive in them.
- Finally, select plants appropriate for your aspect, rainfall and the conditions in your garden. If you are looking for colour in your garden, then hardy plants you might consider include: Geranium, Osteospermum, Hebe, Salvia, Euphorbia, Vinca and Roses to name just a few. Succulents and cactii, along with Beschorneria (like a soft leafed yucca), Helichrysum, Nandina, Mandevilla, Bougainvillea, Westringia and Lilly Pilly are all good options too.