Spring! It’s kind of like Christmas for plant people with everything suddenly bursting into life. And there’s no better time than lockdown to spend some time outdoors, either enjoying or creating your garden.
Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned expert, getting a jump on spring is a sure fire way to a great garden. For east coast gardeners the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wetter than usual spring which – after a warm winter — means a bumper growing season. Farmers are rejoicing and you can too knowing that your plants are going to love the warm soils and extra moisture a negative Indian Ocean Dopple will bring.
It’s a common misconception that native gardens don’t need any maintenance. Out in the bush they’re getting constantly fed by leaf litter, decomposing plants and animals and manure.
If you want a thriving garden at home you’re going to have to fill this gap with a good quality, native plant fertiliser. Your garden will survive without it but with regular care, nutrition and attention your plants will reward you with more flowers and lush foliage.
We recommend Neutrog’s Bush Tucker – its been developed to provide a wide range of trace elements, essential nutrients and beneficial bacteria for healthy soils. Prices start at $19.95 for 1.5 kilos – enough for about 15 mature plants.
Spring is the perfect time to top up your mulch, especially if you didn’t get a chance to before winter. A good quality, organic mulch does wonders for your garden – it locks in moisture, regulates soil temperature, keeps weeds at bay and feeds your soil. Over time it will break down into new, rich soil – garden gold for your plants!
For native gardens it’s best to use a wood based mulch such as cypress, pine or eucalyptus. Save straw mulches for your veggie garden – these break down too quickly, can spread weeds and often form matts that may hamper water percolation or promote collar rot.
Apply wood based mulch to a depth of 50-70mm, keeping it away from the stems of your plants. If you’re topping up, make sure you really need it – pop a garden fork through your exiting mulch to check the depth and loosen it up before refreshing.
How much water does your garden need? How often? And what happens if it’s raining?
How to water is one of the most common questions we get, and also the most common cause of problems! The answer lies in knowing your garden, and your local rainfall measurements.
To check whether your garden needs watering you need to dig down to about 20cm and feel the soil moisture. If you can get a bit of soil and mould it into a crumbly ball, your moisture level is adequate. If it crumbles and won’t hold together at all, your garden needs watering.
On average, a native garden needs between 25-50mm of water per week, depending on the type of soil you have (sandy, loamy or clay). This is approximately one deep soak a week for established gardens, more if the weather is hot and windy, less if there has been decent rainfall. Checking BOM rainfall data, or getting your own simple rain gauge, is a great way to see how much your garden is really getting.
While there’s nothing nicer than pottering around your garden with a cup of tea and a hose, regular light watering likely does more damage than good as it promotes shallow root growth and encourages fungus. Use that time to tip prune or weed, or simply enjoy your spring blooms instead!
Since 1983, the Sydney Wildflower Nursery at Heathcote has been providing residents and visitors from around Australia with quality native Australian plants.
Supplying plants for jobs big and small we pride ourselves on our knowledge, passion and extensive range of beautiful and unusual Australian native trees, shrubs and wildflowers.