Courtney is a freelance fashion, art and design writer and content creator for www.mrgift.com.au - an online boutique specialising in quality gifts for men. Read more of Courtney’s work at www.alittlepinkbook.blogspot.com.au
Published January 23rd 2020
Revive your summer garden
Canberra's changeable weather over the last few weeks has been challenging for many gardens and gardeners. With a little TLC, your garden and survive and even thrive over the remaining weeks of summer. Here's how:
1. Install irrigation I could spend hours every day watering my garden with a hose. Not that I mind spending hours in my garden, but sometimes the luxury of time is not on my side. Soaker hoses and sprinklers are a time-saving option, but you need to be mindful of the times you are able to use these - not before 6pm or after 9am - in accordance with the ACT and Queanbeyan Water Conservation Regulations.
Water dispensed from a soaker hose or sprinkler can be a bit haphazard and not as precise as a custom-designed irrigation system. Irrigation supplies are pretty cost-effective. You can pick up 25 meters of 13mm irrigation pipe for around $10 from a national hardware store.
The cost will depend on how crazy you go with fittings, but there are plenty of options from spray nozzles to drippers and dripline to direct water directly to your plant's roots, minimising evaporation. Irrigation systems also can't be used between 9am and 6pm, but only watering where it's needed will reduce water wastage, and hopefully your water bill.
2. Mulch Once you have gone to the trouble of installing a bespoke irrigation system, reduce evaporation and the frequency that you need to water by using mulch to lock in the moisture. There are so many different types of mulch available – from sugar cane and pea straw that breaks down quickly (perfect for enriching veggie patches) to bark chip and stones, which are slower to break down and great around established garden beds.
The best time to mulch is NOW! The sooner you mulch, the sooner you will conserve water and protect your plants' root systems from the summer heat.
3. Prune your roses for autumn flowers If you've fastidiously dead-headed your roses since they started flowering in spring, they will reward you with a spectacular autumn display. If you haven't managed to keep on top of deadheading, give your roses a light mid-season prune to encourage autumn-flowering in approx. 50 days. Keep an eye out for any pests and diseases and treat them accordingly. The one bonus of a hot, dry summer is that black spot and mildew on roses is kept in check.
4. Give your pot plants some TLC If you were away over the Christmas/New Year period, chances are your pot plants may have dried out or received less attention than usual. If you potted your plants in spring and haven't fertilised since, your potting mix might be lacking in nutrients. Revive your pot plants with a good drink of liquid fertilizer, or an organic tonic such as seaweed solution.
5. Grow Wormwood (Artemisia) Wormwood is a herb that has traditionally been used for improving digestive function. It is also a key ingredient in Absinthe. Wormwood has a very distinctive botanical smell, and small yellow flower buds. However, its most attractive feature is its soft fern-like greyish white foliage. Because of the light colour and delicate nature of its foliage, it copes particularly well in heat and is the perfect plant for Canberra's hot climate.
The fine fern-like foliage of Wormwood is irresistibly soft
There are a number of different Wormwood varieties, from larger hedging types such as tree wormwood (Artemisia arborescens), to smaller mounding types such as Artemisia 'Powis Castle'. The smaller varieties are ideal to plant around a chicken coop, as the chickens will peck at it to cleanse themselves of worms and other parasites. Wormwood also repels mites, so pop a few pieces in your chook's nesting boxes.
Wormwood is exceptionally easy to strike from cuttings. Take a small piece, approx. 10cm long, and cut just below a node (the part where the leaves come out of the stem). Strip off most leaves along the stem, just leaving a few at the top. You can dip the end in hormone rooting powder or honey to help the cutting strike. Alternatively, you can put the cutting in a glass of water and watch roots develop over a couple of weeks. Wait for a few weeks until cutting has an established root system and plant in the garden or a pot. Water in with liquid seaweed solution.