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Gardening in Summer

Water

Beat the heat with these top tips for your plants

Get creative with SHADE

  • Survey your space- what shade already exists? (Particularly, from that harsh afternoon sun.) How can you use it to your
    advantage?
  • Plant out your veggie patch with climbing plants like beans or crops that get height like corn to create shade areas in summer, that allow light in winter.
  • Shade cloth comes in a variety of thicknesses to allow different amounts of UV through
  • Old sheets, marquees, an old tent fly make great, cheap temporary structures when we have a run of high temperature days coming

Microclimates and low water use plants

You may have noticed parts of your garden are wetter or drier than others, or other parts get less or more sun than others. These are microclimates. Learn to work with them, by growing plants that like these conditions in each area.

Select plants that naturally occur in dry areas such as coastal, Mediterranean, Indigenous to Naarm, or rocky outcrops.

How you water your plants makes a big difference to their health!

  • Water in the cooler parts of the day, morning or night
  • Water the soil, not the foliage- wet foliage can burn
  • Deep soaks less frequently are better than a regular quick spray
  • Avoid plant wilt, they may recover, but stressed plants are more likely to suffer from pests and diseases

Mulch & Soil Health

Mulch is a layer of organic matter to spread across your soil. It can help suppress weeds, provide shelter for beneficial insects, and breaks down slowly providing carbon to balance your soil. It also slows evapotranspiration (water evaporating from the soil). Spread quite thickly but not hard up against tree trunks or plant stems.

Light coloured mulch reflects sun away and heats the ground up less in summer. (pea straw, sugar cane, lucerne etc.) You can also ‘chop and drop’ your own prunings or collect Autumn leaves from gutters as a cheap but fantastic mulch.

The healthier your soil the more protective it is against extreme weather- ‘Add Organic Matter’ is always a good rule. This
means using compost and organic material to continually build on your soil health, whether its sandy. clay or loam. Healthy
soils can hold more water.

Build your own wicking pots

Wicking pots are basically a garden pot with a reservoir of water at the bottom. The reservoir is filled with water via a pipe (water inlet), then through a process known as capillary action, the soil wicks the water to the plant’s roots- watering the plants from the bottom up. The overflow prevents plant roots from drowning. Having the water stored below means there is less evaporation from sun and wind, hence you save water (and time).

Instructions, materials and resources

Materials

  • Food grade bucket such as an old yoghurt or cheese tub, Code number 5. These can be sourced from recycling centres, cafes, restaurants
  • Pipe/garden hose, ideally something that is not going to degrade too quickly
  • Fabric, shade cloth or geo-tech fabric that allows for water to penetrate
  • Stones/gravel – roughly 10c to 20c sized stones
  • Potting mix
  • Seedlings
  • Mulch – a fine mulch such as sugar cane or pea straw

Tools

  • Drill and drill cutting piece to match outlet pipe width
  • Saw and or Stanley knife to cut inlet and outlet pipes
  • Scissors to cut fabric