Keeping Your Garden Dewful During Times Of Water Restrictions And Drought
- use standard sprinklers and watering systems at any time
- leave hoses running unattended
- wash vehicles and buildings with a hose that isn’t fitted with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning equipment
- clean hard surfaces such as paths, driveways and paved areas with a hose as part of general clean.
Obviously people may still hand water under these restrictions, which is best done in the morning.
One way to reduce our need to be constantly watering plants during extended dry spells is to capture what comes naturally - dew. Of course, promoting dew to stick around is not a great idea if you live in an area where that dew is likely to be filled with pollutants as that will encourage plant disease.
If you live in an area with clean air the benefits are great, including (1) Supplying important water resource. In the arid and semiarid regions or in the dry season, dew is the main or the only water resource because of its higher frequency and sustaining time comparing with the precipitation, which keeps the organic synthesis and metabolism, accelerates the increase of biomass in plants. (2) Regulating inner water of plants. The function of dew on regulating inner water of plants includes the following several aspects based on related studies: helping plant to rapidly activate photosynthetic activity during desiccation and rehydration; supplying a moisture environment in repairing embryo DNA of seeds, maintaining seed viability under harsh desert conditions; regulating the transpiration pressure and helping the wilting plant arrive a higher steady restoration state; etc. (3) Improving water balance of soil. There is an indirect effect of dew on plant through improving water balance of soil. On one hand, dew forms on the soil surface or drops into the soil from the nearby plants, becoming an importing water resource. On the other hand, the soil evaporation decreases along with dew event appears, leading a mitigation of soil water tension to some extent. [1.]
In Israel, where water scarcity has been a way of life for decades, Tal-Ya (“God’s dew” in Hebrew) manufactures trays that capture dew and funnel it to plants, often tree crops. The 28-by 22-inch polypropylene trays trap air underneath themselves as well, insulating plants from extreme temperatures and catching moisture evaporating from the earth to create a perpetually moist soil pocket around the roots. They also block weeds that would otherwise compete with crops for water.
The trays can reduce water use by up to 90% although 50% is more typical. They can also reduce fertiliser use by 30% because the trays direct the nutrient straight to the plant’s roots. Tal-Ya states that its trays last for up to 10 years and are 100% recyclable. Since beginning commercial production in 2013, farmers in Israel, the United States, China, Chile, Georgia, Sri Lanka, and Australia have adopted them according to the company’s web site.
So how do we funnel what water is available into our plants and make soil so it can retain what water is available?
Taking care of the soil itself is a great beginning. All soils, including the clay soils many Pittwater gardens have, will benefit from incorporating some green matter into them and this in turn helps those soils retain moisture. Also ensuring adequate groundcover of mulch or spreading ground cover plants will keep the soil moist for longer. There are some tips on this in: Spring Garden Prep: Soil Care
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2. Capturing Dew
In Queensland gardeners having been collecting 70-80 litres of dew, even on drier nights, for well over a decade now. Those colder crisper Winter nights create a big dewfall - especially on your roof!
The principle behind this is to harvest that dew that collects on your roof with those who have metal rooves likely to see more dew collecting than the tiled roof, although these will still provide dew water too. As the sun rises in the morning and the temperature does too, if enough dew has formed, it travels down the roof in to the rain gutters and then into your collection points - whether this is buckets under the stormwater pipe or having these directed into a rainwater tank or pond for reuse. It's really that simple.
Tip: make sure your gutters are clean and covered with a leaf guard so you don't end up with a lot of organic detritus in you water.
Tip: check your gutters don't have any leaks - you don't want to lose all that precious dew.
BUY RIGHT® GUTTER GUARD 8M: $2.90 SELLEYS 300G ROOF & GUTTER SILICONE SEALANT SURFMIST: $13.00
both available from Johnson Brothers Mitre 10
3. Plant Choice
Although many native plants still require some water, they won't need as much as thirstier varieties that haven't adapted to local conditions.
Westringia ‘Grey Box’ was crowned Plant of the Year for 2015 at the prestigious Nursery and Garden Industry Australia Awards. The judges were impressed with this plant’s environmental qualities. Incredibly robust, tolerating drought, frost, salt winds, humidity and periodic wet feet, it has been tested in extreme cold and heat, performing well in many different climate zones in Australia.
This plant has year round grey foliage provides colour contrast and masses of white flowers are displayed from September to May. Grey Box is brilliantly tough, fast to establish and easy to maintain as it has a naturally compact, dense habit, making it ideal for use as a neat low hedge, rounded clipped ball shapes, for garden borders or in pots. Reaching 45-55cm high and wide unpruned, but can be kept at a tidy 30cm if pruned one to three times per year.
Feed in spring and autumn using a good Natives plant food that is low in phosphorus and specially formulated for use on natives and will give plants a quick nutrient boost as well as continuous feeding for up to 6 months. For more information on Westringia Grey Box go to www.ozbreed.com.au. Also available: Tips for Growing a Native Garden
YATES NATURE'S WAY 2KG ORGANIC PLANT FOOD: $13.95
4. Plant Care during Cold Dry Winters
In cool zones protect young or tender plants from damage by making some temporary shelters using stakes and off-cuts of shade-cloth or woven textile frost cloth. Using a product such as Yates Waterwise Droughtshield sprayed over the foliage and branches also offers a protective layer which reduces the severity of damage on sensitive plants.
YATES WATERWISE HOSE-ON SOIL WETTER: $16.66
2L. For garden beds and potted plants. Improves moisture penetration and spoil structure.
Cool air and evening dew favour fungal problems on ornamental plants. Check the foliage of sweet peas and begonias for a whitish powdery film on the leaves. Often it’s the older leaves which are worst affected. Treat powdery mildew using a Rose Shield Insect & Disease Spray, which contains a systemic broad spectrum fungicide. Healthy plants are less likely to be susceptible to disease, so keep plants actively growing using regular applications of a Liquid Plant Food.
Indoor plants require much less water during the cooler months. Wait till the soil surface is dry to touch, then apply water, draining off any excess. Water sitting in saucers under indoor plants during winter spells trouble. Move indoor plants well away from heaters and an occasional mist of water over the foliage helps maintain humidity.
Potted flowering indoor beauties like Cyclamen and Phalaenopsis – Moth Orchids – will benefit from regular applications of half strength a Liquid Plant Food which encourages healthy leaf growth and lots of beautiful flowers.
YATES THRIVE LIQUID PLANT FOOD 500ML: $9.99
500ml. Concentrate. Houseplant, tomato or vegie & herbs
Cymbidium Orchids really come into their own during winter with flamboyant displays of gorgeous blooms. In autumn, bring them out into the sunshine as the flower spikes develop. Flower spikes can be supported with a small stake, or left to arch over naturally. Continue feeding fortnightly with a Soluble Fertiliser and enjoy the display as the buds unfurl.
After pruning deciduous shrubs and climbers such as hydrangea, grapevines, wisteria, currants and roses, don’t toss away the trimmings – they make excellent hardwood cuttings. Here’s how:
- Select stems pencil thickness or bigger, and make cuttings 15 to 20 cm long.
- Cut just above a leaf node (where the leaf joins the stem), count down three to five leaf nodes then cut just below a leaf node at the base.
- Orientation of your cuttings is important, so to note which way is up make a slanted cut at the top and a straight cut at the bottom.
- Fill pots with a Seed Raising mix, dibble holes around the edge.
- Water in well. Place the pot in a sheltered well lit position or a small greenhouse, which will help keep the cuttings moist.
- Cuttings can be potted up into individual pots when roots and shoots appear in around 6 months.
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1. Ye, Y. and Peng, S. (2011) Review of dew action effect on plants. Shengtai Xuebao/Acta Ecologica Sinica 31, 3190–3196.
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Decking Timbers Caring For Your Deck Decking Finishes Privacy Screens I Privacy Screens II Privacy Screening Hardwoods Autumn Paths and Lawns Insulation Batts Plasterboard Ventilation - Edmond's Ecofan Blackboards for Children and Home Spring Lawn Care Shade Sails & Watering Basic DIY Tools DIY Tools - Power Drills Recycle Your Trampoline into An Air Bed How to Build Your Own Backyard Cricket Pitch Christmas Lights Displays around House and Garden Summer Mildew - Refresh, Renew How to Fix Things That Drip and Bump in the Night Time To Plant Winter Vegetables in a Raised Garden Beds Layout Organsing Your Tool Shed Make Your Own Weathervane Installing A Garden Watering System Decking Oils How To Make Garden Compost How To Winter proof Your Lawn How to create Shabby Chic effect on Timber Furniture How to Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed Growing Your Own Winter Vegies Winter Heating Guide Prepare Your Yard For Winter Eradicating Noxious Weeds From Your Yard How to Fix Furniture Finishes Part I How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents of Furniture Surfaces - Part II Winter Draughts Fix Classic Wooden Tool Carrier Spring Garden Checklist Part I Install Your Own Skylight Retaining Walls for Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds Summer Salad Garden Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour Renewing Short Flight of Exterior Stairs Deck Maintenance DIY Summer Tasks You Can Do In Time to Get to the Beach Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water Salt Air: Maintenance and Protection Creating an Outdoor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio - Part I Creating an Outdor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio Part II Autumn Garden Tasks Autumn DIY Jobs: Waterproof Your Home Checklist Dealing With Dampness Inside the Home Fixing Your Fence Repairing and Replacing Damaged Decking boards DIY Toy Box and Snow Globes: School Holidays Fun - Winter 2015 DIY Wooden Toy Cars and Perfect Painted Flowerpots: School Holiday Fun - Winter 2015 Shoring Up an Under House Earth Bank – Installing a Basic Retaining Wall DIY One Shelf Sideboard Early Spring 2015 Garden Care Salad Garden For Children Keeping Your Garden and Home Cool in Hot Weather Classic Beach Garden and Camping Chairs 3 Portable Versions Anyone Can Make DIY Outdoor Furniture Mark I: Park Benches for Your Garden Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun How to Install a Solid Core Door and Door Furniture Summer Garden Jobs: Pruning A Hedge How to Make A Swing Chair - With A Frame for Garden Setting Garden Jobs for March to Make A Beautiful and Healthy Spring Keeping Outdoor Nooks Warm During Cooler Months Children’s Step Stool with Storage Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes DIY Garden Shed: Part 1 of 4 - Base DIY Garden Shed: Part 2 - Framing Walls DIY Garden Shed: Part 2b - Gable Roof Framing Garden Shed Part 3: Roof Installation DIY Garden Shed: Weather- boards - Door And Window Installation And Paint Finish DIY Coffee Table With Chessboard Inlay Spring Gardening: Feeding Your Soil And Plants - What Works For Each Plant DIY Sandstone Flagging Parking Area - Platform DIY Pre-Summer Checklist For A Safe Home Summer Spruce Up: Interior Paint Tips and Three easy steps to rejuvenate your timber deck The Perfect BBQ Garden Setting DIY Water Wise Garden DIY Side Gates DIY Storm Preparation And Home Protection One To Two Day DIY Weekend Spruce Ups Vegepods For Autumn Planting + Easy To Make Lego Table Or Student Desk That Can Be Dismantled + Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Online Store Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Great New Mona Vale Store: Still In Bassett Street - number 73 Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Mona Vale Store: The Greenlife Garden Centre Go Outside And Play: Creating Garden Spaces To Connect Children With Nature DIY Plasterboard Repair DIY Dolls House Or Garage Or Boatshed DIY Child's Waggon - or use as a large planter mover DIY Bathroom Refresh: Zing For Spring Tips for Growing a Native Garden FireCrunch, Australian Developed Fire-proof, Sustainable, Durable and Reliable Building Board Now Available at Johnson Bros. at Mona Vale and Narrabeen School Holidays DIY Ideas for Children: Little Vegetables Garden, Swing, Windchimes Bushfire Season Preparation 2017: Home and Outdoor Areas Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale + Issue No 1 of Mitre 10’s inSITE Magazine for Tradies and Handymen Preparing Al Fresco Areas for Christmas Get-Togethers and Summer Visitors Summer De-bug; 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