Quick and quirky ways to improve your garden without spending your hard-earned dollars.
1. That’s swell!
Water saving granules
Any plants, planted at this time of the year, from the largest tree down to the smallest seedling, will benefit from the addition of water-storing granules in the hole. Hydrate the granules before planting. One teaspoon will swell up to at least one litre of gel, saving a litre of water for the plant when it needs it. Pots, hanging baskets and in-ground plants benefit greatly.
2. Front runners in flavour
Virus-free certified strawberry runners are in all good garden centres at this time of the year, just waiting for a home. They will reward you with kilograms of strawberries very quickly and are a great plant to start kids off in the garden. Select strong, large runners — the bigger the runner the older the plant. Strawberries will grow really well in hanging baskets, in pots or in the ground. They require a rich soil filled with lots of compost and aged animal manures. Feed with a complete fertiliser to ensure the nutrients needed for flowering and fruiting are delivered to the plant.
3. Good things in small packages
Planting tube stock
After buckets of rain and howling winds, the emergence of the sun really does bring a smile to your face. It means you can really get out in the garden and carry out the spring planting program, and planting tube or starter plants is a proven way of quickly and cheaply establishing a garden. Research has shown that if you plant small tube stock or starter plants, they grow to be the same size (within 12 months) as the same variety being planted as a semi–advanced pot.
4. Arm’s length
Make beds the right size
When building a vegie garden, don’t make the beds too wide. You want to be able reach comfortably into the middle of the bed to grab your vegies. A great way to estimate the size of your garden is to use the length of your arm as a guide. So throw away the tape measure and stretch out your arms.
5. Mulch and mulch
Raised garden beds can cause the soil to dry out faster, so you will have to water them more often. That’s where mulching saves the day, or should we say, saves water. Lining your garden beds with polythene will also help to keep moisture in and stop timber preservatives from leaching into the soil.
6. Flower power
Attract birds to kill pests
Growing native plants in a productive garden will not only provide you with lots of colour to enjoy but native birds will appreciate them, too. Don’t forget to set up a bird bath for our friends to enjoy a cool drink after a hard day’s work disposing of nasty pests. To help keep the birds coming back, make sure you have something in flower every month of the year.
7. Nitro plant
Comfrey and its uses
Traditionally used as a poultice to relieve inflamed and aching joints, leftover foliage from comfrey can be dug into the soil to supply over 18 per cent more nitrogen to the garden, making it one of nature’s best nitro boosts for all plants. It’s fantastic chopped up and added into the compost as an activator and a great companion plant for stonefruit as well. And bees just love the pretty pink pendulous flowers.
8. No grow?
Finding it hard to germinate your seeds? That’s probably because your soil is too coarse. Small seeds sown directly into a coarse soil will be surrounded by too many air pockets, causing a drop in germination, so the finer the soil “tilth”, the better the germination rate. Rake your soil over a few times until it is fine enough to sow and, once you have sown, avoid heavy watering to prevent seed displacement, which will only cause your seeds to not germinate. Remember that small seeds are sown shallow, thereby drying out faster and requiring frequent watering, whereas larger seeds should be sown deeper and require less watering.
9. Cut it short
Benefits of pruning
It’s like a haircut. Healthy hair is regularly pruned hair and it’s just the same for plants. Regular pruning of your plants will lead to healthier and better growth all around. To create a healthy, dense bush, prune your plants regularly. For every branch you prune, two new ones will develop.
10. As deep as it gets
More water less often
Contrary to what you may think, watering every day is quite harmful to your garden and plants. Shallow watering will not train your plants to go and search for moisture deep below, causing the roots to develop shallow growth and regularly dry out in the heat of summer. Establish deep root growth by providing slow, deep watering where it’s needed the most and drying out on a hot summer’s day will become a thing of the past.