Recent reports in the media of the dire situation with Perth’s water supply and the indication of tougher restrictions on water usage got me thinking (whilst I was hand watering some potted plants) about how we can reduce our use of water in the garden even further.
It occurred to me that growing in containers whether they be decorative pots or metal, plastic or wooden raised garden beds is one way of creating a successful organic waterwise garden. The advantages of gardening in this fashion are that the garden can be portable, almost any plant can be grown in them from annuals, bulbs, herbs vegetables, shrubs and trees and watering them can be more thorough and directed or in some cases they may be connected to the reticulation system or make use of drip or sub surface irrigation.
To garden this way successfully care must be taken to select the right plant for the situation. Taking in to account whether the site is windy, maybe coastal and the amount of sun it receives during the day all these factors will influence plant choice. Containers are also an excellent choice for plants with special needs such as a shady position, acid loving species and even small water gardens. When potting shrubs or trees in large containers different annuals, herbs and vegetables may be planted at the base to create twice the value.
Containers must have free drainage and the media used for planting to ensure success is very important. Cheap potting mixes are just that and the only time I would use them would be mixed with Gods Gift to Gardeners compost to create a fertile organic friable long lasting mix that will also be weed and disease free, free draining and water holding. When choosing a pot make sure it is not overly large for the plant and be prepared to re-pot when the pot is full of roots. At this stage simply rejuvenate the mix with some more Gods Gift. For raised Garden beds a bulk soil mix is available which is specifically designed for this purpose and once again each time the bed is re-planted add some more organic compost. Applying a mulch to potted plants is vital to keep the soil cool and reduce evaporation but it must be kept away from the trunks of the plants. Glazed or plastic pots lose less water through evaporation but terracotta pots can be sealed on the inside to stop plants drying out.
Plants that I have used successfully in large containers include Buddhas Hand Lemon tree, Patio Lime, Cumquat, Eureka Lemon tree, Bay Leaf, Curry Leaf, Lemon Myrtle, Dwarf Peach, Loquat, Basil, Parsley, Mint ,Thyme, Lemon Grass, Coriander, Sage, Chives, Garlic, Ginger, Stevia, Strawberries and Blueberries