HOW TO CREATE AN ORGANIC GARDEN
- Thought should be given to the following when planning your garden:
- Water conservation
- How much lawn do you need?
- How much paving do you need and will it be a heat trap?
- What trees are appropriate for your area?
- Do you need a windbreak to protect plants and reduce water use and stress?
- What sort of garden do you want?
- Group plants with same water/shade/sun hours requirements together.
Prior to establishing your garden, in most areas the soil will need improvement. By applying organic matter and soil amendments you will:
- Improve soil structure
- Encourage water and nutrients to be retained in the soil
- Buffer the pH
- Create healthy living soil
Organic Matter – should be well composted and fine in texture and preferably certified organic. (eg “Gods Gift to Gardeners compost (bags) or Purearth fine compost)
Soil amendments – change water and nutrient holding capacity.
Soil improvement should be added prior to laying new lawn, when planting shrubs and seedlings or applied over surface of existing lawns and to drip zone of existing plants and lightly worked in or spread and covered with mulch.
Soil Wetting agents – should be applied regularly to non-wetting soils in Spring and Summer and beginning of Winter rains. Apply to damp soil and water in to activate.
Mulch should be applied after soil improvement, installation of sub surface irrigation and planting new beds at 50-75mm thick. Keep clear of trunks and stems and top up to maintain original thickness as needed. Left undisturbed Waterwise Mulch will:
- Reduce moisture loss from soil surface
- Reduce erosion from wind and run off
- Reduce weed germination
- Reduce plant stress
- Feed the soil as it breaks down
Mulches include:– street tree prunings, proprietary products such as pine bark, woodchips, stone, pebbles, gravel. Materials such as lupin mulch are feeding mulches and suitable for vegetable gardens, fruit trees, roses and annual beds, they are not applied as thickly and topped up more regularly as they break down more readily.
Subsurface irrigation that delivers water direct to the plant roots is ideal for lawns and can be installed prior to laying or into existing lawn or at time of planting garden beds prior to muching. Retrofit of existing systems is possible but it is recommended that an irrigation specialist is consulted. Existing pop-up sprinklers can be fitted with nozzles that create a low volume stream leading to less evaporative loss and greater accuracy that spray nozzles which create a fine mist spray.
A wide range of plants that can be used to create an attractive environmentally friendly and waterwise garden is readily available. Information is available on the Water Corporation website. Remember the best time to plant is in Autumn.
Healthy plant growth depends upon a proper diet and adequate supply of mineral reserves. Impoverished soils lead to poor plant growth, reduced resistance to pests and diseases and inadequate nutrition for animals and humans. Chemical fertilisers generally contain a fraction only of trace elements needed by plants and often too much of the big 3 elements NPK, are generally soluble thus prone to leaching and do not contribute to soil life or provide organic matter. Organic fertilizers are generally not soluble and are held in the soil in insoluble organic complexes. Mineral fertilisers manufactured by mineral rich crushed rock and activated by bacteria and mycorrhizae are a valuable organic alternative. Others include fish emulsion, seaweed tonics, worm castings & compost.
- Buy and demand environmentally friendly products
- Re-use or recycle
- Make your own compost,worm castings or bokashi mix
- Make your own mulch from prunings
- Install a grey water recycling system.
You can download a print friendly version of these notes below.