Hi garden and food lovers!
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a very dry spring and summer 2019 here in the subtropics. Sorry everyone! That means it’s up to you to keep your garden alive, as nature won’t be giving too much rainfall out in a hurry.
Here are my top tips for helping to keep your garden alive and happy…(and in advance, I apologise to those of you who have been in drought so long that you don’t even have enough water to wash in or to drink. My heart goes out to you and I’m hoping you get relief soon.)
Nothing beats water. Apply water judiciously, in a slow, gentle droplet using a microspray or gentle wand on a hose.
Try to avoid letting the soil dry completely between waterings, as this will stress the plants and cause the soil to become water repellent. WE know that after so many years of limited rainfall in our wet seasons, that soil is deeply dry. That’s why many of our trees are failing to flower this spring. Poor bees and bats. They are suffering too, with less nectar and pollen available for them. Plant and water for them if for nothing else, as our bees and bats are essential pollinators for healthy trees.
To reduce water and heat stress, apply fortnightly seaweed solution to leaves.
Mulch over moist soil. Use whatever you can get a hold of. Straw, bark chip or sugar cane. I aim for 5cm deep and replace it regularly. This way a little rain can penetrate a thin mulch layer.
Provide shade from the beating hot sun. It will help reduce plant stress and will reduce soil temperature and water loss. Shade cloth, old umbrellas, palm fronds, climbing plants such as beans and peas, to shade lettuces etc. These all contribute to shade.
Add humates to your soil. Compost will do the job, or ask me for some Instant Humus. ($18.50 per 1 kg pack. I swear by it) It acts like a wonderful sponge in the soil as it builds valuable soil carbon.
Try these crops in your garden. They are a bit more tolerant of very hot and dry weather:
Beans, eggplants, tomatoes, radish, Asian greens eg Tatsoi and Pak choy, Hong Kong broccoli also known as Gai Lan provides broccolini types heads and edible leaves through our hot summers.
Grow flowers too.
Heat lovers include… cosmos, dahlias, roses, hibiscus, zinnias, galangal ginger as it flowers too.