WE'RE now entering our driest time of the year, coming out of a warmer than average winter. So it is time to take some measures to improve water retention in our gardens. There are a few simple things we can do to ensure that our plants get the maximum benefit from every drop of water.
We rely solely on rainwater at our place, and I'm a real miser when it comes to water use.
I always plant with water crystals, except when planting out short-term things in the vegie garden.
All perennial herbs, shrubs, trees and grasses get a liberal dose of water crystals, soaked in seaweed solution to promote root development, at planting time.
Put the water crystals in a bucket and fill with water, including seaweed solution at half the normal dilution rate.
Within half an hour or so, the crystals will have absorbed much of the water and be ready to use.
Dig your hole a bit larger than normal, and throw a few handfuls of these jelly chunks in the bottom. Mix them into the soil at the bottom of the hole, then plant as normal.
Another of my favourite water-saving products is Eco-hydrate.
It contains a blend of organic humectants (water attractants) and soil-wetting agents, with added seaweed extract and plant growth stimulants.
Eco-hydrate reduces water use (on average by 50%) and plant stress. It's great for establishing seedlings, new plants and turf, as well as potted plants.
We use Eco-hydrate in the nursery, soaking potted plants in the solution to protect them from water stress. It makes a big difference. I use it at home when planting, and repeat every few weeks in the vegie garden during dry times.
Mulching is the other great water saver.
Every garden bed and every pot should be protected with a layer of mulch.
Organic sugar cane and lucerne are great for the vegie garden, and tea tree is excellent for general garden mulching.
I recommend that you feed the garden with an organic fertiliser before you mulch, water it in, then spread the mulch and water again.
Do your plants a favour, and help them to survive these dry times. You'll be amazed at how much you can improve the water efficiency of your garden by using a few simple techniques.