Gardening with George

Hello garden lovers and belated greetings for 2018!

Another hot dry Australian summer is about to come to a close and I for one will be glad to see the end if it.

Our poor gardens have really suffered this season – a result of prolonged above average hot days and below average rainfall.

The town gardeners are now coping with water restrictions, limiting the use of hoses, and the rural gardeners are coping with dwindling reserves in tanks and dams.

This of course is a seasonal issue and one could also argue a cyclical situation, coming around every five, 10 or 50 years but when you are ‘at the coalface’, you are very aware of being at the mercy of mother nature.

Over the last few years and in particular this summer, I have been exploring ways to keep my garden happy, healthy and looking good, even during extremely hot periods.

Here’s a few tips that worked for me:

When to water – morning or evening? This question has vexed gardeners for years but the concensus seems to be early morning is best!

This gives the plants time to soak up the moisture and also have it evaporate from the leaves before the sun has a chance to scorch them.

The reasons for not watering late in the day are mainly associated with diseases, such as the dreaded powdery mildew, which will occur on the damp leaves overnight.

Drip irrigation is a good solution and also the use of soaker hoses, which I used this summer to great effect.

Mulch your garden beds with whatever takes your fancy – your plants will thank you for it!

Mulching your garden can have a range of benefits from reduced water requirements, weed suppression, soil improvement with organic mulches to a purely decorative appeal.

Be aware of the type of mulch you use as some of the organic mulches such as fine sugarcane can mat and repel water – best to mix in straw or similar.

Shade your vulnerable plants on extreme days with a barrier such as good old shade cloth.

I used this over my vegetable cage with great results. My silver beet, lettuce and tomatoes were getting scorched but not after a midday cover up!

I also used shade cloth on new plantings in the garden – everything from seedlings to shrubs, covering on extreme days just until they had settled in.

Looking forward to the autumn rains and cooler days!

Happy gardening,

George Hoad