The differences between mulch

  I am sure every gardener knows about mulching, but perhaps not everyone is aware of the benefits of a good mulch over a cheaper but less effective one. There are a number of pitfalls people should be aware of. There are three main reasons to mulch – the most obvious is to reduce moisture loss from the soil, the second is to keep the roots cool in summer and warm in winter, and the third is to reduce weeds. Providing you have the right type of material, mulching can also feed your plants, however some mulches are high in carbon but low in nitrogen, which can lead to nitrogen deficiency in your soil. To reduce water loss and to insulate your soil, a mulch that’s not too fine is better, so that when you apply it to your soil it still has some air spaces, which results in an…

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Autumn Year Round Fertilising Programme

Need to know what to feed your plants during Autumn? Our Year-Round Fertilising Programmes have been specifically developed by experts who rely upon optimum plant growth to earn their living. Like humans, plants thrive on regular feeding throughout the year – happy, healthy plants are also more resistant to pests and disease. Hint – if you are wanting to achieve even better fertilising results, take the quantity recommended for feeding your plants for the season, divide it into 3 equal parts, and apply 1 part in each month of the season. It is not about applying more, but rather, applying more regularly. This way, your plants receive a continual feed of nutrients in order to achieve optimal health. ✅ 𝐍𝐨. 𝟏 𝐆𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐓𝐢𝐩 Any stressed plants would love some help to recover, so applying products rich in seaweed and organic matter like GOGO Juice or liquid Seamungus can help improve…

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Control of Microbial Numbers in the Soil

The soil is a complex ecosystem, and like all ecosystems there needs to be a balance of organisms, otherwise resources would run out, and one or two types of organisms would dominate. Soil microbiology is much more than bacteria and fungi – it also involves viruses to release nutrients trapped within microbes. Even bacteria and fungi in the soil need to be kept under control, and this is done in a number of ways.  The most obvious is when the soil gets very dry, as microbes will often die. Then, there are biological forms of control, for example, some nematodes are designed to feed specifically on bacteria. The mechanism which has arguably the greatest impact on soil bacterial numbers is what we call bactriophages or bacterial viruses. When nutrients are cycled by microbes, some are in a form that the plants can take up immediately, but others become part of…

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Reviving Stressed Plants

2019 was the hottest year on record for Australia, with the temperature reaching 1.52C above the long-term average. There’s no doubt it’s been a very tough year on plants, so now is a good time to talk about how to get them looking their best again. Although, there has been some rain, you still need to keep up the moisture. It’s also important to give them a gentle feed. Unfortunately, many people think they should feed a struggling plant heavily at this time of the year, simply because it looks a little sick, has burnt leaves or has dried out due to a lack of moisture. Unfortunately, heavy fertilising encourages a lot of rapid new growth (particularly if the nitrogen level is high), and this leads to a large increase in leaf area. This new growth may not be hardy enough to survive another hot weather event, and as the…

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Feeding fruit & veggies in summer

Most soils during summer are likely to be pretty dry, which has a major influence on the soil microbes in your garden. Very dry soils can lead to some microbes and bacteria to die off. Many of the species which are most sensitive are those that are involved in rapid nutrient cycling – in other words, those that break down organic matter. This decline in nutrient cycling means that your plants don’t have ready access to these nutrients. In order to improve the soil biology and provide nutrients for your plants, soil moisture is required. I realise that this is difficult if you’re dealing with water restrictions, however it’s best to mulch and then water at the right time of the day (mornings are best). Don’t bother watering areas too far away from your plants – you may sacrifice a few roots, but if you’re on limited water, just water…

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Summer Year Round Fertilising Programme

Need to know what to feed your plants during summer? Our Year-Round Fertilising Programmes have been specifically developed by experts who rely upon optimum plant growth to earn their living. Like humans, plants thrive on regular feeding throughout the year – happy, healthy plants are also more resistant to pests and disease. ℹ️ Hint – if you are wanting to achieve even better fertilising results, take the quantity recommended for feeding your plants for the quarter, divide it into 3 equal parts, and apply 1 part in each month of the season. It is not about applying more, but rather, applying more regularly. This way, your plants receive a continual feed of nutrients in order to achieve optimal health. During summer, consider what time of the day you’re watering and for how long. It’s generally better to water for longer, less often and in the mornings. By doing so, the water…

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How to make your own fertigation system

Ross Kemp is a member of the Rose Society of South Australia and is from Riverton, a small town in the mid-north of SA.  He designed his own fertigation system to stop pellet wastage, as he found that birds and other wildlife loved to eat them, so he’s kindly provided us with his research. “Fertigation used in home gardens is probably the most efficient and effective way of applying fertiliser to your plants. A fertigation system delivers nutrients directly to the plant by using a hose attached to the 13mm inline dripper system, with water delivering a rate of 1.7 litres per hour. The issue with fertigation is that most people need to get their head around how and why it works. Applying fertiliser by hand is possibly the easiest way that we fertilise our plants – unless you use a fertiliser cart, most people just grab a handful and…

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How to improve hydrophobic soil

Now that summer has arrived, here’s a surprising reason why you should consider using organic fertilisers in your garden. Most gardeners are aware that organic fertilisers stimulate soil microbes, which in turn help your plants, however you may not realise that when you use an organic fertiliser, it actually helps soil to overcome water repellence issues, and now that we’re heading into the hottest part of the year, it’s the most crucial time for getting the best out of this precious resource. The inability of soils to take up water is really down to the waxy coating on soil particles. These waxes come from either soil microbes or plant material which hasn’t broken down completely (Eucalyptus leaves are a great example). When conditions become unfavourable, microbes secrete compounds which make the soil water repellent. For sandy soils, only about 2-4 % of the particles need to be coated for water…

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An insurance policy for your garden

Did you know that fungi in the soil helps bacteria to survive under drought conditions, and therefore also help to maintain plant and soil health? Not only do fungi transfer signals and nutrients between plants, but they also interact with bacteria in the soil. Fungi are good at living and growing in drier conditions, but these conditions are not ideal for bacteria, as they like a bit more moisture. However new research shows that a number of soil fungi can transfer water, carbon and nitrogen to certain bacteria. Bacteria can also actively protect plants from attack by pathogens. This protection is obviously critical in times of plant stress where they are more susceptible to attack, and in dry conditions plants need all the help they can get. One species of bacteria which can be fed by fungi are the Bacillus species. These bacteria form spores to survive harsh conditions, and…

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Geoscience, Microbes & Compost

This week I want to talk about microbes and waste disposal – or more accurately composting. Last year it was announced that geoscience researchers at Penn State University in the US are finally figuring out what organic farmers have always known: digestive waste can help produce food. Although farmers here on earth can let microbes in the soil turn waste into fertiliser which can then be used to grow food crops, the Penn State researchers are trying to find a way in which edible microbes could be grown in a minimal space using human waste as a food source, so that the spacecraft wouldn’t need to take as much food into space. Obviously, I am not trying to convince you to try this at home, however it’s just another amazing example of what microbes can do. What I found so interesting was the way in which the researchers were able to optimise…

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