Summer holidays will be here soon. Here are some tips from some nationally renowned gardeners about how to prepare to leave your garden alone during the hotter weather.
Thanks to Tino Carnevale and our friends at Gardening Australia:
Tino Carnevale shares his top tips to help your garden survive the heat if you’re going away over the summer, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday.
First, decide which parts of you garden can survive without interference. In Tino’s case, his native plants largely look after themselves, so he can save his energy for the more vulnerable parts of the garden.
Use plenty of mulch:
Mulching is vital. Tino uses straw from bales that he has previously used from retaining walls. This way they have started to break down and should be free of any weed seed. Mulch is nature’s blanket, keeping soil cool in summer and warm in winter. Tino says hay mulches are more gentle on the soil than bark mulches, and they feed it as they break down, however it does need replacing over time. He spreads it at a depth of 5-10cm think, working around existing plants.
In the vegie patch, Tino weeds before mulching, then he adds a small amount of fresh, made-compost, tickling it into the soil. This acts like a sponge, allowing your garden soil to hold onto moisture for longer. A thin layer of hay mulch goes on top of this.
Protect Vulnerable Plants from Wind and Sun:
Large-leafed plants such as rhubarb can really suffer in the heat and lose a lot of moisture through their leaves so Tino creates a shelter to protect them from the harsh western sun and the wind. To do this, he drives some steel rods into the ground and then threads some hessian over them, threading the rods in and out a few times to hold it into place, and secures it off at the top with a tie.
Move Your Pot Plants into the Shade:
Any pots small enough to move can be placed in a shady position; if pots are too big to move they can be mulched with some hay or home-made compost, to help the mix retain moisture. This has the added bonus of working its way down into the soil as it breaks down and feeding the mixture.
Give Your Plants a Good Soak:
Before you leave make sure you give everything a deep, long watering and make sure the soil is thoroughly wet. Fruits trees can be soaked by leaving your hose dripping overnight, by which time they should be saturated. Smaller plants in pots can be submerged in a bucket of water till the soil mixture has stopped ‘bubbling’; this is a sign all the air bubbles are out of the soil and its really watered thoroughly.
Don’t Forget Your Indoor Plants:
Put a plug in your laundry sink and line the base with newspaper. Put your potted plants in the sink and give them a good water, leaving a few centimetres of water at the base. That way your indoor plants will be well watered while you’re gone – however, while this is fine with figs and peace lilies, don’t do this with succulents or other plants that don’t like being waterlogged.
When you return, your garden might be a little stressed, but at least it will be alive. Give everything a good recovery drink and they should all perk up soon.