(A paid post with the good people from GARDENA NZ)
As much as it is still early spring and the weather flip flops between hopefully promising with warm sunny days and a brutal reminder that summer is still a way off as the wind drives cold rain into window panes making indoor computer gardening seem like the best option for the day, it is still important to keep the gardeners eye firmly on the growing season ahead.
My limited experience living here has taught me the garden gets hot in the summer. A digital temperature reading of the sandy paths in the height of last summer had it well up over 70ᵒC. I also know that the soil I brought with me from the swamp is great for water retention and I only need to water the beds for 9 minutes each and the soil stays moist for at least a week. This is encouraging because I have a fabulous irrigation system and water computer to control this process each week.
But I also know how much a tanker of water costs and how long it lasts in the height of summer as last summer we had the accident where we lost all our water through an unfortunate tap turn last Christmas Eve. We ended up having several tanker loads delivered that summer. After some good winter rains, we are off to a good start, but I certainly don’t want to go back to that desperate situation anytime soon. So, I need to do more to conserve the precious water I have in the garden and that means mulch.
Mulch is great because it locks in moisture and reduces weeds and the right kind of mulch will break down over time and feed the soil. When you have a garden as large as mine, a good thick mulch can be a costly exercise, unless you get creative. Fortunately, I am a creative gardener and have come up with a great mulch from what the land already gives us – The tree lupins that grow quickly and easily on our sandy coastal land. I did a trial run on my rhubarb a while back. The bed is small – only a metre square and it seemed to work well enough to scale things up and make mulch across the garden.
It just conveniently happened that I had an area I want to clear of tree lupins as I have decided the garden needs to be pushed out just a little in a direction I hadn’t considered before. Seriously a garden is never big enough and this side of the garden isn’t fenced so my ambition is not contained. Before I changed my mind, I set to work and started to clear the space. With the right tools it was a quick job and before I knew it, I had a better idea of the space I had for my sneaky expansion plan, and had created enough mulch to ensure the onions would have even moisture availability as they headed off into the 2nd stage of their growth and any opportunity for weeds to settle in between the rows have been nipped in the bud.
I do have lupin seedlings ready to be planted out in my mulch plantation, however while they grow big enough to harvest from, I am turning my eye to other areas that could be liberated of plants to serve my purpose. Making mulch is one of those rewarding jobs that doesn’t take long to do but the results are immediately evident. I suspect this will become one of those much anticipated enjoyable tasks across the spring as the beds are filled with plants and topped up with mulch.
Come again soon – the spring is marching on and there is no time to dilly dally.
Sarah the Gardener : o)