How to save water while maintaining a gorgeous garden
EVERY gardener knows that one of the most precious resources for a healthy vegetable or flower patch is water.
In the future, expect it to be an even more precious commodity with moves towards water accounting and labelling on products and battles over water rights and licences.
If you're on tank water, finding enough H20 to water plants and productive trees like citrus, now in bud and a known heavy feeder, is an even greater challenge in this super hot and mostly dry weather.
Temporary drought, especially that which our area is suffering from at the moment, can seriously reduce the growth of plants and fruit, said gardening expert Leon Coventry.
"Some may even die and others can be severely stunted," he said.
"Even house plants will dry out in a single day in this heat and humidity.
"Wilting is the most common symptom of dryness.
"Some plants, such as impatiens, hydrangeas and native mint bushes, will wilt more quickly than others and therefore are a good indication that your garden needs a drink."
A good measure of dampness in your garden is to stick a finger into the soil and if it feels dry below the surface you need to give your plants a good soaking to penetrate into the lower levels of soil. It's best to have some kind of device like a sprinkler that allows you to leave the hose to soak different areas of the garden - don't just spray on top.
Water in the cool part of the day to avoid any water loss through evaporation, and never at lunchtime when the heat is most intense.
And, as we have mentioned so many times before, mulch your garden well as this will prevent run-off, slow down evaporation and reduce weed competition, said Leon.
"I must state at this stage that if you have plants in pots and hanging baskets, you need to watch their dryness in the heat and always water them well through.
"Over-watering can also be an insidious killer, rotting roots in the main.
"When and how you water is subject to your experimentation. You know by the health of you plants if you are doing the right thing."
BE WATER SMART
If you have to be economical with water for the garden, try these water and plant-saving tips:
Always water first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, never in the middle of the day.
Collect the first run from the shower in a bucket and use it to water.
Use sugar cane to mulch heavily around plants and prevent dehydration.
Choose drought-hardy natives over water hungry exotics.
Keep showers short, and maybe bath with your special friend - it means more water for the garden.
Put in a tank, or an extra tank, just for the garden.
Save washing clothes and dishes for a full load.
Try water saving crystals for house plants or a soil wetter for the garden.
VEG OF THE WEEK: Tumeric
THIS bright orange/yellow root is the flavour of the month for detoxing and reducing inflammation.
It costs about $40 a kilo in the shops but the better news is that it is relatively easy to grow.
In tropical regions it can be planted anytime and while it does need regular watering and semi shade to thrive, it's also pretty tough.
The easiest way to grow it is to buy some turmeric roots from the shops and select those with one or two buds.
Plant them in damp soil about 25cm apart and don't water again until the shoots appear in about a month.