Thursday, October 12, 2017 | Regina Downes | Comments (0)
What does wet season ready mean?
With our wonderful climate of extreme tropical weather conditions we need to remember to prepare our Top end gardens for the approaching wet season. We need to make sure our garden beds can withhold the big monsoonal rain falls we get or you may find yourself swimming to Alice to retrieve you’re newly planted tree and have wasted lots of money on expensive fertiliser that has all washed away.
Here is a few points to note on how to get your garden wet season ready!
If you are considering planting larger tree’s in your garden, NOW is the time to do it, as it’s important that the tree’s roots get well established and anchored in the ground before the wet arrives and with it, the big storms. You want the tree to form deep roots in the soil, as shallow roots dry out quickly and cause water stress for the tree.
Now is also the best time to plant any other plants, as this is the best growing time for all plant life here in the Top End due to the high humidity (moisture in the air). Planting plants now means by the time the dry season arrives most will have doubled in size.
If you have areas of you garden that hold a lot of water for long periods of time-plant plants that love wet feet such as Bamboo, Cannas, Alocasia’s etc. Maybe think about building some raised garden beds if you want to grow plants that cannot tolerant a lot of water especially through the wet season.
Are your plants well mulched? Yes we will get huge amounts of rain fall but in between these delightful showers we will get roasted to death by the hot baking sun and this tends to dry out the soil as quickly as its hits it. Mulch (woodchip) retains moisture and this helps the plant keep cooler for longer. It also helps supress weeds and adds nutrients to the soil. It’s important that NO plant roots are exposed. Do a walk around your garden and check for any exposed roots- visible around the base of the plant. Mulch actually reduces water evaporation by up to 20%
Fertilise your plants NOW BEFORE the wet arrives, as if you fertilise during the wet season the big rains will wash away most of your fertiliser. I use slow release fertiliser tablets on every plant we plant. They are placed midway down the side of the root ball and last between 9-12 months. It means I don’t have to try and remember every few weeks to re fertiliser my plants. Use whatever works best for you, but now is the best time to fertilise, don’t forget to feed your fruit trees!
4)Monitor the rain fall
Buy a rain gauge! This cheap and simple gadget will help reduce your water bill and save you some cash-once we get between 15-20mm of rain fall turn off your irrigation until the following day. (Note-we used to say less rainfall is required before switching off your irrigation but recent studies have shown that 15-20mm is sufficient)
It is very important to check you rain gauge daily! If we get a quick shower and only 5mm falls it’s not enough to justify turning off your irrigation. Hence it needs to be monitored on a daily basis.
If you leave your irrigation off and your plants are suffering they will stress and get raggedy (if that’s a word!) and start turning brown.
Remember that 25-30% of water gets evaporated before the plants can absorb it. The rule of thumb is water for longer less often.
Once you provide more than 25mm of water the water is pushed out of reach of the roots. You can water the lawn all night and get the same benefit as if you had watered for 20 minutes in the late afternoon.- Micheal Smit in How to water your garden.
Feel free to add any helpful tips you may have in the comment section below when it comes to wet season gardening here in the Top End