The wisdom of time….and hindsight
Time is a great giver of wisdom; it allows you to make mistakes and then hopefully learn from them. This is certainly the case with gardening where, sooner or later, your mistakes become very evident. However it does help if you have some of this wisdom simply told to you so here are some little gardening pearls of wisdom.
While weeding is sometimes good therapy, mostly it is just a pain. To counter our weed problems many of us laid down weed mat and covered it with a good layer of mulch. It worked as far as the weeds go but it created other problems. The weed mat with a thick thatch of often hydrophobic mulch was impenetrable to water. The underlying soil dried out and compacted. There was no transfer of humus into the soil. In effect, the soil died. Even with an irrigation system many plants struggled and often new plants died or failed to thrive. A moderate, layer of mulch is almost essential in Rushworth, but make sure that it is thin enough for our precious rain to penetrate. An occasional handful or two of wetting agent is a big help.
It is entirely possible to build clay into garden soil. It takes time. Initially a good dose of gypsum and plenty of compost needs to be dug in. The initial plantings should be quite hardy types. When planting dig large holes and really break up the clay and use plenty of seaweed solution. Over the following few years keep adding compost and building up the soil and you will develop soil good enough to plant most things in, but remember the clay is still underneath.
It is also quite possible to grow a garden in areas that are in a dark and gloomy spot. Simply plant what will tolerate the cooler low-light conditions. It is a case of planting what the position dictates rather than what you would like to grow.
An irrigation system on a timer is a great thing, but have you ever tried to program one of those expensive electronic timers? Unless you have a tech savvy grandchild to do it for you it may be better to get a mechanical twist style timer. You will need to turn it on but at least you can use it. They are also cheaper and seem to last longer.
Some plants are quite fussy when it comes to soil ph. It is cheaper to get a soil testing kit or take a soil sample into your nursery to be tested than it is to buy plants and watch them die.
In ‘difficult’ parts of the garden, resist the temptation to plant vigorous bomb-proof plants. While they may thrive they may also spread to where you don’t want them. Later when you finally get around to developing that “difficult” area they will be almost impossible to eradicate. If you insist upon planting them check to ensure they are not classified as noxious.
Check all new plants for insects and disease before you plant them. This is especially true for the freebies that your gardening friends give to you.
Every now and then we all have plants that start to go downhill. If it is a shrub or tree, cut of a little of the dying part of the plant and check for termites. They are rife in Rushworth. Whether the termites are the cause of the plant’s failure or whether they are taking advantage of the weakened plant is a moot point. If there are termites in the plant, treat with powder insecticide (cut and immediately dust) or remove the plant entirely. Then check other plants and buildings for signs of termites. Some plants are very well protected with thorns or spines. Bougainvillaeas, yuccas, many grevilleas, cacti and of course roses, are just some examples. They may be lovely to look at but are murder to prune, cutback or remove. Try to find thornless varieties to plant.
Over the last few months many of us have been swept up in a flurry of gardening; a good, healthy activity when keeping away from the world. We just need to accept that not all of the gardening we have done in this time will bear the desired results and that we will, in time, gain more wisdom.