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Water-wise gardening

The New Year starts with one of the most challenging gardening months. January is typically hot and humid. Summer rains bring relief but the intense heat results in many plants taking strains. Plants in full sun locations and containers, in particular, need regular watering to survive the intense heat of summer.

Regular watering requires time and attention to detail, both of which are precious and in short supply.  To simplify and reduce the frequency between watering, it is advisable to apply a mulch to area’s that are exposed to the hot dry conditions.

More about mulch.

Mulching refers to the application of a layer of material to the soil surface. This layer is usually but not exclusively organic in nature. The layer can be permanent or temporary and can be applied to open bare soil or around existing plants.

Mulching has the following benefits to your soil:

·         Stabilises soil temperatures

·         Conserves water and moisture

·         Protects roots from cold weather conditions.

·         Reduces weed growth

Organic mulches (typically manure or compost-based) will be incorporated naturally into the soil by activity of worms and other micro-organisms. This has the added benefit of improving soil structure and quality, which in turn improves soil productivity.

The addition of a mulch is not only of great benefit to your plants and your soil – it also saves you time by reducing the amount of weeding and watering required. Pine bark has a lot of lignin and cork which biodegrade over many years and saves on using large volumes of organic material.

How does all this enhance my soil?

Adding organic material improves aeration, the water holding capacity and the ability of the soil to hold nutrients (cec). This in turn promotes microbial activity. Microbes are alive and continually improve and enhance the soil structure further, ‘feeding’ on the organics in the soil to produce additional plant nutrients.

Living soil is the basis of healthy soil, which will reduce pathogens and improve plant vigour.

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