It is not your imagination, according to www.climate commission.gov.au , there are more extreme weather events occurring.
The hottest day, the worst frosts, strongest winds etc
So over the next few weeks I would like to share with you some of the ways I prepare my garden for these extremes.
Firstly let’s look at some general things to consider.
If you have the advantage of starting a garden from nothing or are planting new gardens or replacing plants that have expired, then plan your planting, taking into consideration extreme weather;
Plant species that are:
• Drought tolerant.
• Frost tolerant.
• Trees that can withstand strong winds without snapping branches.
The plants you consider will be based on the extreme events you experience in your area.
Tune into the local weather reports daily so you are aware of impending extremes and put in place things that may limit the effect of the event on your garden.
Be careful how you feed your plants in times of extreme weather- soft nitrogen induced foliage is much more susceptible to frost, heat and wind damage, then slower grown tougher foliage.
Apply regular applications of a seaweed based conditioner to your plants, as this increases the cell wall thickness, making plants tougher and more able to withstand extremes for heat and cold as well as damaging winds.
Heat waves and extremely hot days
As we are coming up to summer I will start with Heat waves and those real scorching hot days. In the summer of 2013/2014 on the east coast of Australia, we experienced the hottest summer, the hottest month and the hottest day on record (according to www.climate commission.gov.au). They predict that we can expect these extremes to occur more often.
So some tips:
– Always try to increase your humus content of the soil as it acts as a reservoir of moisture.
– Always water your garden thoroughly till the soil is soaked to a good depth to encourage deeper root growth. This is extremely important for lawn which will suffer during hot weather. Obviously the depth of soaking will depend on the plant, for annual plantings and lawn soak to at least 20cm whereas for large established shrubs and trees you want a long deep soaking of about ½ meter.
– Give the garden a good soaking just before an extremely hot day or extended heat wave.
– Mulch heavily, at least 10cm think -only ever mulch soil that is moist, so a good soaking before you apply.
– Apply wetting agents to soil that has become difficult to wet (Hyrophobic) and as a matter of cause apply to potted plants once a month during the warmer months.
– On an extremely hot days water thoroughly in the morning before it is too hot( before 9.00am), if things start to wilt during the day, water the soil around the plant again, but try not to get any on the foliage as this can cause burning of the foliage.
– Apply seaweed extract (like Seasol) before an extremely hot day as it will help protect the plant.
– Build a frame over tender plants and cover with shade cloth; this is especially important for young seedlings.
– Grow your softer foliage plants like lettuce and silver beet in the shade during the hottest months.
– During the hotter months avoid growing plants that “bolt” easily in hot weather, like coriander and lettuce or plant in a cool shaded position.
– If you have plants in pots move them into the shade before an extremely hot day or for the duration of a heat wave.
Next week: What to do during drought.