Gardening FAQ’S

My plant looks sick , what do I do?!

When a plant looks sick most people just give it a drink of water and wait and see if this strategy works.  In most cases this doesn’t work and in some, it even makes it worse.  Below is a step by step list of things you can do to try and encourage your plant to become healthy and happy again.

WATERING: Have you been giving your plant adequate water? or possibly too much water?  When watering a plant it is advised to only give the plant a small amount of water through a  watering can.  Allow this water to sink into the media and then, apply another small amount. Repeat this process until the media is thoroughly wet and in the case of potted plants , the water is coming out of the bottom of the pot. If you stand there and drench the plant in water all in one go the water will generally just spill over the surface area and follow gravity. this is either down the sides of your pot, away from the root system and out the bottom of the pot, or in the ground, will run off and soak in unevenly in a different location.  By slowly adding water it has time evenly soak into the soil around the area where the fibrous roots are and to nourish the plant properly.

FERTILISING: There are two forms of fertilisers: soluble and solid form.  Soluble fertilisers are taken up by the plant within approximately 48hrs while solid or pelleted fertilisers are broken down by microbes etc and slowly fed to your plant over a period of a few months.  If you choose to use a soluble fertiliser then you will need to apply this a lot more frequently then a pelleted or slow release fertiliser.  Soluble fertilisers are a good way to feed potted plants.  Another factor to consider is the type of plant you are feeding.  for example:

VEGETABLE AND FRUIT PLANTS: the golden rule with any edible plant is “Whatever you feed the plant you will eventually feed yourself “.  In other words , if  you use chemicals to feed your vegetable patch , at the end of the day you will end up consuming those chemicals in some form yourself.  So if your growing food it is my strong recommendation to only use certified organic fertilisers. A combination of pelleted organic fertiliser and liquids such as Liquid Seaweed and Liquid Fish emulsions work well together.

NATIVE PLANTS: Native plants require only a small amount of phosphorus (P), so check the labelling on fertiliser to make sure it is suitable.

Stay tuned for more updates fortnightly , and Happy Gardening and Worm Farming!

Part 2:  Mulching

Benifits include:

  • Encourages worms to the area.
  • Improves water movement through the soil – due to worm activity.
  • Promotes stronger growth rates & improves yields.
  • Adds organic matter to the soil and aids in soil friability.
  • Encourages micro-organisms.
  • Prevents up to 75% of water loss due to evaporation.
  • Suppresses weeds.
  • Reduces  maintenance needs of the garden.
  • Improves the visual aesthetics of a garden.

Different plants require different mulches.

Bacterially motivated mulches include:  sugar cane, lucerne, barley straw.

Fungally motivated mulches include:  pine bark, tea-tree, cypress mulch, hoop fines, natra mulch, forest mulch.

All grasses through to small shrubs have a bacterial motivated soil therefor prefer a bacterial motivateed mulch.

Small shrubs through to conifers prefer a fungal motivated mulch.

Grasses, vegetables, herbs, small flowering plants such as Allysum-Petunia- Pansy , Cordlyine, Draceana, Bamboo, palms all like mulches such as sugar cane, lucerne, barley straw.

Small shrubs, large trees, conifers like mulches such as pine bark, tea-tree, hoop fines, forest mulch.

Sugar cane, lucerne, barley straw are perfectly ok to use on shrubs through to conifers.

My prefered mulch is sugar cane.  If  i’am mulching a clients garden of small shrubs through to conifers and they have requested the “wood” look I will always use a base mulch of sugar cane – 50mm- and then top this wilth a further 50mm of wood mulch to create the desired effect.  The reason behind this is that sugar cane breaks down quickly, improving the soil structure with organic matter.  Worms love sugar cane and will travel to the location of it.  Bacteria is the basis of a good soil so the sugar cane will encourage this to occur.  The healthier the soil, the healthier the flora.  I will always mulch all fruit trees with sugar cane as well.  If  you decide to use this method of mulching , make sure to water each layer  – soil, then over the cane, then over the wood.

Always water the garden bed prior to mulching.

Mulch to a depth of 75mm – 100mm.

Preferably fertilse before mulching.  Be mindful to cover any exposed roots prior to fertilising.  Dont raise the soil/potting mix up the stem of the plant.

Mulches keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter thus encouraging worms to stay active in the garden.