Spring 2013, Part 3

Hi There!

Yet again my finger has slipped onto the shutter button, but I make no apologies because spring is a wonderful time of year.  Enjoy!

Cheers!

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Mulch Ado About Nothing

Hi There!

Much can be said about mulching, much can be done about mulching but much will be gained by mulching.

Why Mulch?

Here’s the three main reasons why we do.

  1. Reduce evaporation
  2. Change the soil temperature
  3. Reduce the number of weeds

A by-product of the first two points is less water usage which reduces the reliance on water usage and decrease our water bill as well, which I find highly attractive.  What do we use as a mulch?  Lots of things can be used but the most common would be Straw(including pea and Lucerne)/Hay/sugar cane and compost.  There are also more woody ones like Pine bark/Wood Chips including Euchi Mulches.  One can also use decorative mulches like Pebbles/Sand/Gravels.  There are pro’s and cons for all of them, it just depends on your needs and what you are looking for.

Decorative mulches will look good yet provide no benefits or nutrients to your soil.  Organic mulches like straws/hay may not look so sharp yet they provide nutrients as they breakdown.  This improves soil structure and increase the amount of micro organisms in the soil which in turn provides a healthier soil.  Larger particle mulches like Pine bark may cause a symptom known as nitrogen drawdown.  This is because Pine bark is lumps of carbon(that’s what wood is) and the micro organisms in the soil need nitrogen to breakdown the Pine bark therefore they draw nitrogen out of the soil to do this,  creating a drawdown(less) nitrogen in the soil.  A simple application of Blood and Bone or such like fertilizer will solve this issue if it is one.  The other negative,  if it is one for organic mulches is they will need to be replenished each year because they do breakdown into the soil.  I think this is a bonus though, because its doing nothing but good for your soil.

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Above you can see that the hay has broken down which has exposed the soil, leading to more evaporation and the potential for increased weed growth.  Below you can see that while the mulch is still there, it is breaking down and will need to be replenished.

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       1.  REDUCING EVAPORATION

How does this work.  It works two ways-firstly by shading the soil and secondly by slowing the movement of water vapour and liquid from the soil.  Evaporation from bare soil acts like a wick – drawing water from below.  By using a mulch we have broken the wick which of course will reduce evaporation.  Studies have shown that water evaporated over 2 days from bare soil was about 27.9 g/m2, whereas soil with a 75mm thick layer of Lucerne hay was 4.9 g/m2.  A reduction of 82% in evaporation.  (Growing Media for ornamentals and turf, Handreck & Black)

     2. CHANGING SOIL TEMPERATURE

Temperature of soil is lower under organic mulches than soil with no mulch.  Mulches shade the soil and insulate it.  Tests on soils have shown that at 30mm depth below the surface and with a layer of straw 40mm thick on top, the highest temperature recorded over a 24 hour period was 26 deg Celsius.  Where as bare soil temperature measured the same way was 51 deg Celsius.  (Growing Media for ornamentals & turf, Handreck & Black)

Here’s a picture showing bare soil that has dried out and is dusty with hardly any structure to it.

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Below is soil that has been mulched for 4 years and showing good structure and is moist as well.

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    3.  WEED REDUCTION

Mulches reduce the number of weeds because seeds mostly need light to germinate and if they do, most will die before reaching the light.  Some will get through, though these should be weakened and easily removed.

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Above and below you can see bare ground with some weed growth even after hand weeding and the soil is drying out as well.

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Picture below showing garden beds topped up with mulch

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Below you can see the depth that I mulch to, it’s about 60-80mm thick.  Always remember to water area to be mulched well before applying it.  I find it useful to water  after mulching as well.  Seems to stick the hay together slightly which stops it from blowing around and deters the birds for a while as well!

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Of course there are always other effects of mulches, pros and cons of each as well.  Look into what you want to achieve, the look of it, maintenance of it, replenishing it.  Researching it will help determine whats best for you.  As you can see from the photo’s I prefer a straw/hay mulch.

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Above you can see a hay bale being put to good use, and below a freshly mulched garden bed.

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And another

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Always make sure that mulch is not in contact with the base of plants(around the stem).  This can cause rotting if it is.

The main thing is there are massive benefits to be had by mulching, and they include,

  • Less watering
  • Less weeding
  • Better soil health and structure (if using organic mulch)
  • Better plant health and growth (if using organic mulch)
  • LOWER WATER BILLS!

We always look at the bottom line in the end and it tells us there’s certainly much ado about mulching!

Cheers!

A gaggle of Geese!

Hi There!

Clematis are a beautiful group of plants and I have a few in my garden which are always stunning when in flower.  I thought I could find a collective noun for them, but to no avail.  A conglomerate of didn’t sound right because their not taking over the world, a gaggle is already used by those pesky Geese, herd and other equivalents are taken by animals, tree’s get a stand.  Fleet and flight are well and truly spoken for, herd and pack are no better.  I have it!  A Cling of Clematis.  Cling because a lot of them cling to other plants to scramble up and about.  No doubt incorrect, sounds alright though.

Moving right along, Clematis is a genus of approximately 300 species from the buttercup family Ranunculaceae.  They became popular from round about 1862.  They are mostly woody climbing vines but some species are shrub like and some are herbaceous perennial plants.  There are both deciduous and evergreen species.  Leaves are opposite and divided into leaflets and leaf stalks that curl and twist around other plants or structures to anchor the plant.  They are mainly found throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere although there are species in Australia and New Zealand as well.

They prefer to have the base of the plant in shade( a cool root zone) and the top half in full sun.  The plants we see are normally the big showy cultivars and there are hundreds and hundreds of them.  The smaller flowered species though will show their subtle beauty as well and are well worth growing for something a bit different and interesting.

This has been just a quick over view of them and here is my Cling of Clematis.  Enjoy!

Cheers!

Roses, Spring 2013, Part 3

Hi There!

The Roses are continuing to come into flower and my finger seems to have a twitch in it when its near the shutter button on the camera, so hope you enjoy these photo gallery’s.  For your information they can also be found on this website under Photo Gallery.  A lot of my photo’s can also be found on FLICKR under the profile(name) JACBD.  You can also click on the photo’s in the right hand column on the home page of this site and it will take you to my FLICKR photo stream.  Here’s a few more photo’s for you to enjoy.

Cheers!

Spring 2013, Part 2

Hi There!

Spring is a magical time of year, it’s usually when an abundance of plants are at their best and if the weather is kind they will put on a great show.  Today the weather is odd for this time of year, its cloudy and raining and cold(about  17 deg C).  Forecast for the rest of the week is some rain and temperatures hovering just below or above 20 degree’s C.  Normally we would expect anything from mid to high twenties to low to high thirties.  I’m enjoying the cool weather but I know plenty of you wont be.  Here’s a few more photo’s of the garden and plants in flower.  Enjoy!

Cheers!