August 12 - 18, 2018: Issue 371


Spring Garden Prep: Soil Care

Generally soil is classified into three groups - clay, loam and sand. To determine your soil type, just dig down about 10 centimetres, grab a handful of soil then squeeze it into a one mass. Loamy soil forms a rough ball but will crumble easily. This soil type is an ideal mixture of coarser and finer particles and organic matter.

Organic matter is anything that derives from something living and includes humus from decaying plant and animal material, such as animal manures, kitchen scraps, garden prunings, pine bark and sawdust. Keeping organic matter part of your garden’s soil structure improves not only the soil structure itself, it also aids aeration and drainage. This encourages soil life such as microbe, earthworms and adds nutrients to the soil.

The water holding capacity of soil is also important. To work this out, tip a litre of water into a pot of soil and measure what has drained out. In loamy soil water retention is usually pretty good, but it can be improved by adding more organic matter, such as compost or aged animal manure.

Clay soil consists of fine particles and as most know, when you squeeze moist clay to form a smooth, round ball it will go hard once dry. The advantage of clay soil is that it holds onto moisture and nutrients longer and there's less moisture lost through evaporation. This means that plants need to be watered less frequently.

The disadvantage of heavy clay soil is that it becomes waterlogged, with poor drainage and aeration. Gardeners with a heavy clay soil need to mix in some gypsum - a natural mineral. Gypsum helps to break up the clay and will improve its structure so that it forms crumbs that are easy to work. Add in some organic matter, such as compost or aged animal manures, because they're important for all soils.

Sandy soil has particles that are quite large and coarse compared with clay. Even a wet sandy soil won't stay together and once these soils dry out they become hydrophobic, or water repellent. Sandy soils are a problem for plants as there's no water holding capacity in the soil.

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

The best solution for sandy soil is to add organic matter such as compost or aged animal manure, and mix it through the soil. By mixing fifty-fifty organic matter with sandy soil it will improve the water holding capacity of the soil. You can also try using products such as soil-wetters, but look for biodegradable, organically based soil-wetters. Others, such as polymer-based or petro chemical based products may pollute the soil.

When it comes to using fertilisers, use organic-based fertilisers, such as pelletised manures or blood and bone. Soluble fertilisers leach through sandy soils and can contribute to the blue-green algae problem. Once your plants are in, top up the soil with an organic-based mulch, such as peastraw or bark. Healthy soil means healthy plants and it's absolutely vital for a waterwise garden.

If we have the Summer currently being forecast, a waterwise garden and doing some ‘ground work’ now will help keep your back yard greener through long hot dry months.

You can also choose to plant out some natives this Spring; these are far more likely to do well in this environment and will provide food and shelter for local birds and animals.

Please use a 'safety first' principle when applying mulch and fertilisers to your garden and wear the proper equipment: gloves and a mask and even eye protection. 

With August now here it’s the perfect time to be doing some of those jobs in the garden that may have been neglected during Winter. Tidying, planting, soil preparation and pruning are all important tasks that will give your garden new life and prepare it for Spring!

A great place to start is a general tidy up of the garden. Remove weeds, and then adding mulch to bare spots can help stop any new weeds sprouting. When mulching around the base of trees, leave a few centimetres clear of the trunks to reduce the chance of rot on the stems occurring.

Clearing drains and roof gutters where leaves have gathered in large amounts is a great way to tidy the garden and ensure Spring rains have somewhere to runoff other than back into your home. The cleared material can go into the compost.

Prune unwanted or dead branches off trees and shrubs once the new growth has begun. This will allow more air and light through the branches and help to reduce diseases or pests developing. Now is the perfect time to prune roses as well, just before they bud. You can also clear any dead or obstructive branches and open up the inside. Your fruit trees will also benefit from a tidy up at this time of year before buds fully develop and bloom.

You can begin to plant early Spring vegetables during the next few weeks, just remember to protect seedlings from colder mornings if you’re in a shadowed nook of Pittwater that doesn’t get sun until late morning this time of year. Use items from around the house like an overturned bucket or a large flower pot. Also, think about planting several vegetable varieties which mature at different times to have a prolonged harvest this season.

Once you have done your Soil Preparations and tending for the Spring, leave these to settle for a few weeks and then you can start transplanting existing shrubs. Just make sure you give them a decent water in of we don’t get some decent rain to moisten up the soil soon.

Spring is a wonderful time of year and it’s only a few weeks off now. Make good use of your time during these last cool weeks of winter to tidy and prepare your garden so you receive the best crop or yield you’ve had!

And your garden will love you for it! Now, and into Summer.

Mitre 10 News

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Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Will Help You Get You Spring Soil Prep Work Done:

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Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale

Green Life Garden Centre at Johnson Brothers Mona Vale

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All information and tips in this publication are of a general nature only and neither Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 or Pittwater Online News does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information and tips in this publication. This publication is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice. Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 advises you to always consult an experienced and qualified person when undertaking jobs of this kind (including consulting a qualified tradesperson such as an electrician or plumber where relevant expert services are required). 

You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this publication (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this publication are provided on the basis that Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 and Pittwater Online News excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this publication. 

Pittwater Online News and Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 also advises there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work. Major projects published in this publication always list these and/orlinks to where you may research what your own project requires to meet regulations.

Previous DIY Pages:

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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