It never ceases to amaze us how resilient the plants in our gardens are!
One week we are reaching for the warm jacket and the next we are looking for the closest shady areas to take refuge from the sun. It’s how we look after our plants that can affect how they cope with extreme changes of temperature. It’s this time of the year that will make or break the garden and ensure the outdoor areas look brilliant throughout summer.
Summer survival tips for the garden:
- Mulch all garden areas to retain the moisture in the soil and shade shallow roots from the sun. Mulches can be coarse, organic, inorganic or composting. Composting mulches feed the soil as they break down, while inorganic mulches are best suited to pots. Select stones or gravel with no clay content and spread 40-50mm thick on potting mix surface.
- Ensure water is soaking into the soil. In many areas of Australia certain soils are hydrophobic and repel water. Check how far water is penetrating into the soil by digging or scratching around the soil surface. An application of Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner will save water and plants through summer.
- Ensure the reticulation system is delivering water to the plants roots. An effective and efficient reticulation system saves water in the long term. Test sprinklers and drippers regularly for blockages and breaks.
- Bunch pots together to create a microclimate that is cooling and protects plants from drying winds and extreme temperatures.
- Pot up any plants that are in small pots to large containers. More soil around the plants roots will reduce root temperature and delay drying out.
- Avoid fertilising with high nitrogen fertilisers. Nitrogen encourages lush green growth that is susceptible to sun scorch and heat damage.
- Plant ground covering plants in garden beds. A round cover will act as a living mulch, shading the soil from the scorching sun.
- Avoid moving in ground plants from one position to another throughout the warmer months. Transplanting from pots is successful throughout summer, but inground plants struggle to replace the moisture transpired due to the loss of fine feeder roots. It doesn’t take very long for them to dehydrate.
- Select the right plants for the position. Be aware of where the summer sun reaches in the garden. Overhead sun in summer is harsh on plants and can damage plants in one day if the wrong plant has been selected.
- Only remove 1/3rd of the green foliage every time the mower goes over the area. Avoid scalping the lawn and removing all green growth. The lawn survives summer better and there is less chance of burning and browning when mowed regularly.
- Apply Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water) every 2 weeks throughout summer to help plants cope with the stresses of heat and drought.
Growing secrets for the tastiest Chillies
When you talk to a passionate chilli grower they all have their own secrets they’ve developed over the years to ensure the biggest and best fruit. Chillies are very adaptable, tolerating high temperatures with ease. It’s time to get the seedlings established before the heat sets in for the season. Chillies require a long growing season and regular watering to ensure flowers do not drop through water stress. With a bit of luck plants will continue to grow for many years, often producing fruit out of season. Thriving in hot weather, chillies prefer at least 6 hours of sun per day and a slightly acidic soil to fruit at their best. Fortnightly applications of PowerFeed for Flowers, Fruit and Citrus (50mL per 9 litres of water, every 1 -2 weeks) will ensure abundant flowers and tasty fruit.
Creating a frog friendly water garden is possible regardless of the size of your garden. Bowls and pots are ideal as they are portable and can be set up easily in any position in the garden. Select a container that’s at least 25 cm deep and block off holes with silicone then allow to dry. Depending upon the depth of the container place a ten cm layer of gravel in the bottom. Water plants can be placed directly on top of the gravel and kept in their pots. Adjust the level if they are too far under the water. Water lilies are perfect for water bowls placed in full sun as they don’t flower in a shaded position. There are also many edible water plants and a potted water garden filled with these will reward you on many different levels. Select water chestnuts, taro and watercress for a taste explosion.