After our huge week of wild weather, the silver lining to some pretty scary dark clouds, is that we have had much-needed moisture. Soil feels more alive after a good soaking. The worms are stirring, the microbes are working, and together they aerate and nourish the ground in ways you can't even see at the surface. To set your garden up for the coming cooler months, check off these three simple tasks that are best done after the last storm passes.
STEP 1. Start weeding. All that rain, along with the longer days of the season, means the weeds will start sprouting (if they haven’t already), with a vengeance. The heavy rain will have softened the soil, making weeding much easier on the hands and back. Tackle weeds now while they are seedlings to prevent them from taking over your garden.
STEP 2. Spread some mulch love. This is our favourite mantra (obviously), but seriously, mulching will keep your garden beautiful and maintenance less arduous. To keep the weeds at bay after you've pulled them all up, spread a 6cm to 8cm thick layer of organic mulch on your soil. Not only will the mulch help to smother weeds, it will help hold in moisture and keep the soil warm, which is especially important after all the rain.
Mulch also keeps the soil from eroding (and the rain from washing away all the nutrients) if we have another deluge in the coming weeks. If you have existing plants in your garden bed, mulch around the stems (leaving a "moat" of a few inches around) and not right next to the stem, as it could cause rot.
To mulch large areas, lay down pieces of cardboard, newspaper or weed matting and apply a thin layer of organic mulch to keep everything looking tidy. Cardboard is highly effective at killing weeds as it deprives the seeds and plants of sunlight and passage, and it will biodegrade naturally by the end of the season, making more mulch. Not sure how much mulch you will need? Use our online calculator to work it out (or give us a call).
STEP 3. Turn the compost heap. If you have an open-air compost heap in your backyard, you'll want to fluff it up with a garden fork. Turn it over, stir it up, and give it some good aeration after it's been soaked and compressed by heavy rain. If the compost is still very wet after a week of forking and air drying, balance it out by adding your browns — that is, a healthy helping of dried leaves or shredded paper to help absorb the excess moisture.
Overly wet compost can't breathe; it suppresses aerobic bacteria (the ones breaking down all the organic matter) and introduces anaerobic bacteria (the ones that cause compost to smell rotten). Above-ground compost heaps need good air circulation to properly decompose. You'll want to do the same thing even if you have a closed compost heap, as heavy rain can easily leak into a lidded bin or compost tumbler.
As always, our staff are very happy to guide you regarding how much product (and the best type of mulch for your site), you will need, so don't be shy, give us a call on 5453 7100.
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