As with all living things, gardens need drinking, feeding and control over pests and disease. Knowledge on herbicides and pesticides, pruning, propagation and fertilising is of great value in the process of maintaining the garden you have created. Follow these guidelines and your garden will respond with beauty and health.
Watering frequency depends on plant and soil types, climates, seasons and planting positions. Plant types with deep taproots, like trees, may need little watering due to their ability to tap into underground water-sources. Plants with succulent stems and foliage will need less irrigation than soft leafed plants. Soil types differ greatly in their ability to contain moisture and sandy soils need the most frequent watering of all but climatic conditions like wind can dry the soil out fast too. Planting positions in full sun will dry out much faster than cool and shaded spots and of course seasonal rainfall patterns play a role in watering.
Water-wise gardening for those in areas of drought:
Water only after sunset or during overcast weather.
Avoid using sprinklers; a lot of moisture evaporates before reaching the soil.
Use slow running hoses, watering cans or buckets.
Mulch, mulch, mulch! This not only supplies your plants with nutrients but also helps retain moisture.
Group plants with the same drought resistance together.
Make use of water-saving materials, such as re-wetting granules.
Get in the habit of using environment-friendly products only. This way you can recycle all wastewater in your garden.
Organic Fertilisers and Mulching
Mulching helps retain moisture; provide insulation and food while keeping weeds down.
Compost and Manure The importance of organic matter for soil structures can’t be over-stressed. Manure is not always easily available but all gardeners should aim to manufacture their own compost. Creating your own compost heap helps eliminate organic waste, so often found in modern times. Instead of discarding anything of organic origin add it to your heap. 3 Months is needed for decomposition (letting it stand longer will only result in precious nutrients leaching away). Use semi-decomposed matter for drainage in planting holes and the rest to improve and mulch soil.
To start a compost heap you need to clear, level and treat a section of ground with Dipterex. This will hinder flies from breeding.
The heap may be as long as permitted but should at least be 1,3m wide and high.
Always mix soft materials together, but only add grass clippings, green vegetation and vegetable waste after wilting in the sun first.
Moisten all matter thoroughly and ensure medium moisture throughout, with new additions pressed in firmly.
Ensure air circulation by mixing matter thoroughly.
Sprinkle over every 20cm a layer of agricultural lime and mushroom compost, manure or bark clippings over every third layer could prove very beneficial.
Ideally one should build two heaps for constant supply.
Leaf mould is a main form of nutrition in nature. Leaves, excluding pine needles, are ideal for forming humus and are an excellent medium for the compost heap.
Pine bark chips decompose slowly and are ideal for well-established plants. Note that pine bark, when fresh, may slow the growth of young plants down, due to its containing a growth inhibitor.
Straw is brilliant for it is almost completely weed-free.
Wood shavings repel slugs and snails when fresh.
Shredded pruning should lie for a few days to neutralise before incorporating it as mulch.
Pebbles, stone-chips, rocks or pavers are ideal for mulching rock gardens.
Tip: When planting a new tree or shrub, plant it with a 2L plastic cool-drink bottle. Cut the bottom off the bottle, screw the top on tight and prick a few holes around the closed up neck. Plant the bottle with the neck’s side in the bottom of the hole and its open bottom sticking out above the soil. Ensure the neck and the plant’s roots are at the same depth. Keep the bottle clean. Water these plants by filling the upside-down bottle and your plants will receive moisture directly at root level.