Spring Surprise- Hot and cold, windy and dry!

Previously, in my last article, I mentioned how great It is to be working outdoors especially among the new spring flowering blossoms and witnessing firsthand the myriad of pollinators interacting as nature takes its course. It’s also very interesting, how the weather lately has been so unpredictable with huge variants in temperatures swinging from 23 degrees daytime to 31 degrees a few days later and back to south westerly- cool winds, that would blow a dog off its lead, the hat off your head and the fragile new flower buds right off your plants for that matter. But I still love being amongst it all!

With all this variation of temperature and unstable weather conditions with no rainfall on the horizon as I write this article, and all the fires that are scorching through the local bushlands once again, you know when it’s this dry and when our dams are dwindling fast also, that our gardens and lawns are stressing for irrigation to keep them alive too, especially with our sandy soils here on Bribie Island and surrounding coastal districts. I have mentioned dutifully over time, that the best thing we can do to our soil and for our plants and lawns, is to build up the organic matter and keep gardens well mulched with an open mulch that will not compact or become hydrophobic. It’s in these times of environmental extremes, hot, dry or windy conditions, that’s when the soil that contains compost, worm castings or composted manures and readily accepts applied irrigation, will assist the plants and lawns to withstand any moisture related stress, without sacrificing too much on the leaf, buds or fruit formation, due to excessive wilting, during the prolonged dry spells.

You can well imagine, trying to irrigate your patch during these windy conditions of late and getting the irrigation to actually land in the root zone area would be a mean feat on its own, never mind if your soil is hydrophobic or your mulches have compacted over time making infiltration difficult, so the process continues- soil building, recycling compost- mulching, adding wetting agents if necessary and choosing the right plant that will handle the local conditions accordingly. The problems will really start, if our local dam levels go below the threshold of 50% and as a result water restrictions may be implemented, then it all comes back getting our priorities right, food crops- verses- lawns or two-minute showers, for the die-hard gardener (like myself) of course. Having water tanks plumbed to your stormwater from your roof will be beneficial when the storms do come our way and will certainly be a considerable and valuable resource when trying to keep your lawns and gardens hydrated this summer but it does not go far when the rain spells are few and far between, so best to be prepared, if you are considering growing a nice thriving garden or healthy lawn this spring build it up with organic matter now, control weeds before they seed and mulch to protect the soil and plant roots to give it all the best start possible, you will be glad you did!

Alternatives to soil media, “The wicking system”- I mentioned a few months ago, for those who missed it, is well worth researching as it conserves moisture by percolating through a pipe in the bottom of planter box and you fill the pipe up with water and the plants roots access the moisture by the process referred to as-‘wicking’ (absorbed by osmotic pressure from bottom of planter to the top, by the plant roots system) there is minimal waste and this is especially great for veggie plantings and great when water restrictions are imposed. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that, and the dams fill once again before restrictions of any sort are implemented. So here’s hoping your sward or patch is staying hydrated and also hoping the rains will come to fill our dams to ease the stress. Also our thoughts and prayers for the less fortunate, our farmers and friends who are in severe drought throughout our country already, and our neighbouring communities who are also battling bush fires too. And a big thankyou and shout out for all the fire and emergency services- working night and day to keep us all safe!

Until next issue- Stay safe! -Your Local- Happy Horticulturist- Mick O’Brien Dip.Hort(MAIH) RH-101

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