Autumn soil microbes

Delving into the activity of soil microbes in autumn, we find that the biological activity of soil microbes is driven by the same factors that influence plant growth, moisture, temperature and nutrients.

In summer when the soil moisture drops and temperature of soils is high, microbial activity slows down. In your garden, this means the breakdown of organic material and nutrient cycling slows down. The residual effect is a reduction in nutrient availability for your plants.

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How to germinate old seeds

Unfortunately the current Covid19 situation has resulted in a lack of available vegetable seeds and seedlings, but don’t despair if you still have some seeds from last year or even the year before hidden in the back of your laundry cupboard. In many cases these seeds can still be viable if treated correctly.

Seeds have a date that is essentially a best before date, after which the seed viability drops off markedly. Seeds such as chilli, capsicum and even corn have a short shelf life, but now is not the time to plant these anyway. Unfortunately onion seeds fall into this group as well.  Other seeds such as beans, peas and the brassicas are often good for up to 3 years, and others such as lettuce and radish are good for 5 to 6 years.

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How nutrient cycling benefits your plants

This week, Neutrog’s Microbiologist and R&D Manager, Dr. Uwe Stroeher talks about soil nutrient cycling, and how you can influence this to benefit your plants. The story of nutrient cycling is very interesting – many people think that in order for lush plant growth in your garden, you need lots and lots of nutrients. This is true to some extent, however in rainforests or tropical areas, in many cases the soil itself is nutrient poor, so the lush growth is due to rapid cycling of those nutrients.  When leaves or other organic matter fall in these tropical areas, the insects and microbes quickly get to work in breaking down the material in order to make the nutrients available for the next round of plant growth. It is by the action of bacteria and fungi that the rainforest can support the diversity and vigour, however we can’t all have a rainforest…

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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.

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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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