Its February in Central Victoria and I’m feeling the heat now my first born is at school, and so is my garden. I’m not sure which tribe of mum I belong to, but if there is one group that caters for sweaty, anxious hysterical mother’s, then I think I’ve passed that initiation. Nearly every day this week its hit over 30 degree’s and when your waiting for the school bell, smiling at strangers and your Havaianas are about to melt, there’s not much else to talk about than the obvious weather. Needless to say I cant avoid these weather conditions but I might be able to help your garden with a few tips to keep your plants cool and to ensure your produce keep’s coming.
- Mulch – Compulsary for anyone’s garden, especially if you want to grow food! Pea Straw mulch keeps the ground moist, suppresses weeds and breaks down and gives the soil nitrogen too! The majority of the time I use pea straw as its affordable and available all year round. I layer it on my veggie patch like a lasagne. If you have time check out Gum Tree to see if you can get a good price per bale otherwise a hardware, garden shop will sell it. I sometimes use Lucerne (when its damaged and therefore cheap!) Its a bit harder on the hands to handle but its got more trace elements than pea straw and doesn’t break down as quick. For my flower beds and fruit tree’s I use a natural tree clippings mix, (no nasties and nothing treated). I top this up once a year, usually about 5 cm thick. If the mix is thick it is harder for water to get to your plants, and if its finer, it will break down quicker, but water can make it way much more easily. When Spring comes along its time to remove the mulch so the earth has time to warm up for the next planting season. If you have chooks, give the girls some free range and let them play in the patch. They’ll help removing any bugs, fertilise the ground and as always make a mess!
- Heat Proof paint – Yep, slip slop and slap it on and this can give your pots a break from the suns work.
- Cheap Pots- pretty simple, when there’s a hot spell coming, place your pots as close as you can together. This will increase the shade and reduce water wastage.
- Watering – We have tanks on our urban block so are able to water when we like. I never let my plants get too dry, so to check how your soil is faring dig a hole (not too close to the roots of some plants i.e. Lemons) and feel around with your finger. If its crumbly and dry, give the plant a good water. If the water is running off the plant it might pay to check out the composition of the soil. Does it feel like Clay? Then add some Gypsum. If the mulch is too thick, which can happen as we are always trying to make sure the moisture stays in, grab some poly pipe, or anything that can act like a funnel and place it in the ground next to the plant so the roots get a drink. I’ve had a few friends ask me to come and inspect their fruit tree’s as they have been mulching but getting no fruit. This seems to be answer every time. Mulching is compulsory but if the water cant reach the roots, get some pipes now!