For those of us who have been applying soil wetting or re wetting agents in an endeavour to help moisture to penetrate to the plants root zone, the small amount of rain in the region may have helped. Continue applying these products along with seaweed based solutions and good organic compost to the beds, along with a good mulch to help protect the soil from heat, and to help smother the weeds.
I use sugar cane mulch and before applying I put the unopened bale into my poly based wheelbarrow and make a few holes in the base of the bale (just a few), cut open the top of the bale and pour over the mulch four or five buckets of water charged with Seasol and allow the mulch to absorb this solution. (It can take some time). I find this practice eliminates dust and makes the mulch easier to spread around the shrubs. The solution that remains in the barrow I simply pour over the garden.
If you intend to purchase some bulk soil for garden or for turf preparation you will get better results if you combine soil wetting granules to the mix prior to spreading.
At the top of my block there is an irregular shaped eight square meter raised bed that consists mainly of course sand (probably left over from the house construction). It does have some remnant organic matter that I have introduced over time but will need plenty more to improve the soil health and nutrient holding ability. The only plants that still exist are two clumps of ‘Red fountain grass’, Pennisetum setaceum, and they need a good chop and feed to rejuvenate them.
My intention is to employ some very hardy native plant species that will tolerate somewhat poor soil and low water needs. This zone only gets watered when it rains or when I drag out a very long hose.
Firstly I will need to improve the soil by digging in lots of humus, bags of organic native planting mix along with organic fertiliser and some wetting agent.
Because of the soils free draining properties I can utilise plants like the ‘Woolly Bush’ Adenanthos sericeus a striking plant that has soft, fine, dense grey/green foliage (more like a plume of soft down,) and to stay with the grey/green effect some ‘Coastal rosemary’, Westringia fruiticosa. For foliage contrast a few clumps of ‘Kangaroo paw’ Anigozanthos flavidus, but for impact I will randomly plant the very tough ‘Old Man Salt bush’ Atriplex nummularia. This very resilient species with its silver grey leaves can grow to well over a metre plus. The leaf shapes can vary on the same plant from round to elliptical. A nummularia takes well to pruning, it can be trimmed to create a hedge. However I will simply prune to maintain a compact dense shrub. Interestingly male and female flowers occur on separate plants and are wind pollinated.
To get that natural bush effect I will mulch the soil using 50 mm of leaf litter, which I have heaps of.
I will keep you informed of my project in future articles and take some photos to put on our facebook page.
Jon (Plantman) Lovett