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Water-wise Gardening- for sandy soils!

Spring, is the best time to get organised with all your planting, pruning, fertilising and lawn renovation requirements before the heat of our summer really kicks in. If you have some plants growing in the wrong situation at home, perhaps not enough light or too much midday sun, then now is a great time to consider replacing or replanting them. Although typically in spring, our weather is not normally as dry as the weather we are currently experiencing and our lawns would normally be ready for renovation too, but as rainfall has now become scarce, we have to really think about the whole scope of works very carefully. I remember when I was transplanting some Crotons and Cordylines a few years back and pulled the plants out and set them aside under a tree in the heat of summer while concreters came in and created some slabs and garden edging. As I knew this was going to happen in advance of course, I had irrigated the plants in question thoroughly the night before their removal and again in the following morning. I also sprayed some antitranspirants - trade name: (‘ENVY’), liberally all over the plant’s foliage in preparation for the big moment. After a few hours the hot winds kicked in, so I wrapped the root balls in hessian bags and moistened them once again in preparation for replanting. Unfortunately, the concreting procedure took most of the day, so I had to come back the following day to replant the poor buggers- but to my amazement, the plants looked as good as they did when they were firmly rooted in soil, the foliage still firm and stems had retained the turgidity and colour, it was unbelievable that such a simple spray on product could be so useful in times like these, while keeping the plants hydrated enough to tolerate being snatched from the environment in mid-summer.

Soil wetters and penetrators, when applied, either by granules or hose on, work best if you can add some irrigation to get the product into the soil profile where the roots are, and a couple of watering cycles may be required to get the benefit of the product into your soil, but if no rainfall is on the horizon, this may compromise the soil wetting ability and as a result may need a follow up treatment. Great for our hydrophobic soils but some surfactant products, may actually set back the microorganisms in the root zone also. A possible remedy here, would be applying some diluted seaweed by hose on applicators, a few days after the soil wetters were applied, as it can assist in recovery, due to the seaweed’s natural gibberellins and amino acids which can strengthen the cell walls of plants and turf grass, which also assists them to be more tolerant of dry spells in the future and is good for the soil biota too. Any potted specimens that may have dried out a little should be rehydrated with plain water first and let drain off before applying tonics or fertilisers for optimum results. As with any treatment, the more hydrated the soil or plant, the better result from using these tonics will be. The best medicine is to irrigate firstly as most treatments will not be absorbed efficiently when the lawn grasses are showing signs of stress (leaf rolling), as the leaf blades try to minimise further moisture loss to aid in its survival while waiting earnestly for the rains.

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