Happy New Year and immerse yourself in the garden in 2021!
Finding a few minutes, a day to enjoy your garden, balcony or pots is a New Year’s resolution that can be easily achieved.
Immersing yourself amongst green and nature is the new health tonic and can be accomplished at any time. Think of it as green mediation. Whether you have one pot or hundreds, live in an apartment or are surrounded by wide open spaces the benefits are still the same. Use this month to recharge end immerse yourself in an inspirational gardening project if you are staying home.
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We tend to bundle herbs together as needing the same care. The most common herbs we use in cooking require vastly different growing conditions. While coriander is an annual and thrives in the cooler months, rosemary is at home in a full sun, dry position and thrives throughout the warmer months. A few hours spent planting the heat loving herbs will produce benefits all year round, not just at this time of the year.
Top heat loving herbs
Rosemary There are at least 6 different varieties of rosemary and each one has their subtle flavour differences. Strong hardy growers are perfect for low hedges, while the rambling varieties are ideally suited to large landscape areas or cascading over low walls. Rosemary and lamb is the traditional flavour matching, but as it loves the heat and grows so well at this time of the year serve as a condiment, mixed with lemon rind and salt on fish or thick slices of juicy ripe tomatoes served at room temperature.
Sage The humble sage is underrated as a garden plant. Once prized for its medicinal values, nowadays it’s common to find it flavouring, sourdough bread, pork sausages and the hero ingredient in marinated goats cheese. It tolerates less than ideal growing conditions, growing naturally in the Mediterranean and produces a brilliant flower show in spring. Grows in most areas of Australia and benefits from a prune after flowering to encourage bush growth, exactly what is needed when growing for the plate.
Thyme Common thyme is a creeping ground cover perfect for underplanting in large pots and containers. When growing it’s a balance between quantity and quality. Grow them soft with lots of fertiliser and water and the result is a mass of harvestable foliage. Almost starve them with minimal water and fertiliser, just enough to keep them alive and flavour is intense.
When planting herbs water them in with Seasol or Seasol GOLD to assist with plant establishment and health growth. Apply PowerFeed every 2 to 4 weeks to keep your herbs happy and healthy.
We are still facing a few months of hot weather across the country and it’s time to consider the bushfire preparedness in your own garden. While the devastation of the 2020 fires is still fresh in our minds it’s a reminder for call to action. By following a few simple tips (even if you don’t think you are in a high-risk area) it could make the difference in saving your property from ember attack.
- Ensure there is a clearly defined entry and exit to your property visible from the road. In a wildfire situation the fire brigade is very hesitant to enter a property if they can’t easily see a clear exit in the case of a wind change.
- Remove jute door mats. These mats are a fire hazard and will catch alight in the case of an ember attack.
- Ensure gutters are cleaned out and roof is clear of any organic matter.
- Avoid stacking wood up against the house, particularly kindling and small branches.
- Remove overhanging branches on the house and maintain a 2m clearance.
- Avoid large shrubs against the house and in the case of hedges or garden beds prune shrubs so they remain at below gutter height.
- Service vehicle access. Remember to prune overhanging trees to ensure enough clearance for high vehicles.
- Maintaining the Hazard Reduction Zone (HRZ) or Asset Protection Zone (APZ) is a valuable barrier between the house and the path of an oncoming fire. This zone doesn’t have to be a barren landscape, in fact a well-maintained garden will keep an area cooler and reduce the risk of fire.
- Mulch covering is important to reducing soil temperatures and chunky mulches are more firewise than fine stringy ones.
- Reduce the size of garden bed areas with gravel paths, this assists in access and reduces fuel load.
When to water
Throughout the summer months in most areas of Australia it doesn’t make any difference to the garden if you water later in the evening or in the early morning. If you live where night temperatures are cool water around the foliage will assist in the spread of fungal problems such as black spot and powdery mildew. In the warmer parts of Australia this is not a problem. In areas where sandy soil is prevalent water early in the morning, this way the water applied will be able to be used by the plants almost immediately before it drains past the root zone.
Throughout summer, check that the water is going down into the soil, to the plant’s roots. Perform a simple test by applying water to the soil, then digging down into it to see if it is wet or dry. If the soil is dry, it could be water repellent or hydrophobic and require a soil wetter such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner. Apply 50mL concentrate per 9 litres of water (standard watering can) or use the hose-on pack.
To cast much needed summer shade, plant a grapevine or two. They are one of the best for living shade and there’s something about sitting under a pergola covered with grapevines. Thriving in full sun they will grow well across the country and are successful with a little extra care in tropical areas. For the best start mix organic matter or compost, or for a no-dig option Seasol Liquid Compost in the hole at planting, mulch with composting mulch that will feed the soil as it breaks down and water regularly. Prune hard in winter when the vine is dormant to allow the warm winter sun stream through. If the thought of fruit is not appealing, look for the ornamental grapevine, exactly the same growth rate, gorgeous autumn colours and no hassle of fruit.
When planting or pruning your grapevines apply Seasol or Seasol GOLD to assist with strong root development and healthy growth. Apply 30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water (standard watering can) or use the hose-on pack every 2 to 4 weeks throughout the year. To keep them looking lush and healthy, apply PowerFeed with Troforte All Purpose including Natives every 6-8 weeks into the top soil and water in thoroughly after application.