by Wally Richards
There are many tips that can assist you in achieving better results from your gardening pursuits.
Over the years I have collected so many of them that I sometimes forget some and then one day something will activate the memory bank and out comes another great tip.
Over the last 50 odd years of writing weekly garden articles and books (one of which was Green Tips for Gardeners, that is still available as a few copies are left)
OK, lets open the memory banks and see what comes out now:
First and foremost is: Dont garden the plants, Garden the Soil instead.
This is very simple as a viable soil full of soil life will mean great healthy plants.
Man made fertilizers which contain Super Phosphate are acidic by their composition and that is departmental [detrimental? —Eds] to the earth worms and soil life.
A question I am often asked is why don’t I have earth worms in my gardens?
I dont use chemicals fertilisers or sprays and only use natural and organic type products.
I then simply ask “does your tap water supply have chlorine in it”?
They just about always reply yes and that is the reason for no earthworms and poor soil life as chlorine kills the microbes in the soil along with beneficial fungi and worms.
So simply for the price of $140 you can have a housing with a 10 micron carbon bonded filter connected to your tap (by Snap on hose fittings) that will remove the chlorine.
Chlorine is a poison which has to be filtered out by your kidneys, your children’s and pets’ kidneys.
I learnt about soil chlorine damage many years ago when I was breeding Shar Pei dogs (Roly Dogs that you have to keep your Purex Toilet paper away from.)
I had noticed that my dogs would sniff a freshly poured bowl of water from the tap and walk away to drink out of a muddy puddle. The reason? They would smell the chlorine and having more brains than us refuse to drink it unless desperate.
When I gave them chlorine-free filtered water they would not hesitate to drink it.
My original Shar Peis lived between 5 to 8 years old all of them dying of kidney failure.
SharPei have genetically poor kidneys and any contaminates such as chlorine puts added stress on their kidneys.
Once I switched to filtered water indoors and outdoors then I had Shar Pei living up to 14-15 years of age.
I read some where that chickens live twice as long without having chlorinated water in their drinking bowls.
Tip for those with showers and town supply chlorinated water; put a filter onto the shower and see the difference with your hair and skin (also your health)
Talking about water; growing up I often saw older gardeners watering their gardens by hand and would see them jetting water onto their plants as well as watering into the soil. Why?
Simple they would see insect pests on the plants and with a jet of water would wash them off.
This would reduce the number of pests feeding on the plants which would improve their well being.
I love watering by hand it gives me time to observe the plants close up, see what problems they may have if any, allows me to take care of weeds which pull out of the wet soil easily.
It is also very relaxing and a healthy activity.
It is best to water in the morning or during the day and not so good to water late in the day which because the water does not evaporate over night and can cause fungus diseases such as powdery mildew.
You hear some saying you should not water in direct sunlight, obviously they have never seen a sun shower. Mind you if its chlorinated water onto plants in sunlight that can be bad for the foliage.
Washing your car or windows with chlorinated water leaves streaks, that is the chlorine residue after the water has evaporated.
During dry times soil builds up surface tension which stops water from penetrating.
Often seen in lawns which we call dry spot and in container plants where the water runs down the inside of the container and out the drainage holes in the base.
The plant gets a little drink and is dry again very quickly. It pays in the summer to dunk your containers into a tub of water and watch them bubble, getting rid of the air and tension.
Next time you water the liquid will go where you want it to go, into the growing medium.
On the lawn you see dry spot as a area of brown grasses but the grass on the perimeter is green and lush.
To fix this fill the watering can with warm water and squirt a good shot of dish washing liquid into the water and lather up.
Water this over the dry area to break surface tension. Same can be done to containers that are too big to plunge. In summer hanging baskets outside with plants in them should be dunked once a week as they dry out so quickly.
After a bit of a dry spell when rain is forecast it is a good idea to go and water the gardens to make sure water will penetrate. If not use soapy water trick. In event of a lot of rain this will allow a lot of water to be absorbed into the soil and reduce possible flooding.
It is a total waste of time using dish washing liquid with any sprays unless it is used as an emulsifier for oils.
Used with sprays it will only wash off quicker in rain.
Of course on the other hand use Raingard with any contact sprays or herbicides for rain proofing up to 14 days.
Used in any herbicides Raingard acts as a chemical bridge and you get a 50% better kill faster.
Old gardeners that would grow their vegetables in tidy rows used to hoe up between the rows. The reason they said was to aerate the soil which was correct but it was also breaking the ends of the roots off the vegetable plants which the plants then would create a bigger root system.
Plants would respond and grow bigger faster. It is the same principal as cutting the end off a branch, the branch left will form a lot more branches. Roots are the same. As above, So below.
Direct sowing of seeds where they are going to mature will always create bigger and better plants as opposed to transplanting.
If you buy a punnet of seedlings and there is lots in the punnet then the best way to separate them is to do it in a bucket of water which means less root damage.
If there are too many for a planting then heel them into the garden in a bunch. (make a hole and put them all in as you would do for one plant)
Because they are in a group they will hold nicely only growing a bit over the next couple of weeks when you can then plant some more for succession.
Spraying your preferred plants and vegetables once a week with Magic Botanic Liquid will give bigger, healthier plants quicker than not.
Spraying your strawberry plants weekly with Mycorrcin will increase your crop by over 400%. Start at the beginning of the season.
Cell strengthening your garlic plants with silica spray once a week from time they corm sprout will help avoid you losing crop to garlic rust.
Can also help with curly leaf on stone fruit..
There are heaps more tips like these and looks like I need to sit down and write another book.
Problems ring me at 0800 466464
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz