Gardening before the wet

It’s been a while since we’ve had any decent rain, and we probably won’t get any until Christmas. Unless you have a good automated irrigation system set-up this is not going to be the best time of the year to be planting anything new in your garden.

So what can you do in your garden during the dry season? It’s simple. Get your garden ready for the wet season.

It may not be the best time to plant new plants into the garden because of the dry, but it is a good time to pot up your smaller plants into larger pots to increase their size in preparation for the wet. You see, even though it’s dry, the days and nights are warming up, so with a little extra water and fertilizer, freshly re-potted plants can be encouraged to have an early growth spurt.

Subsequently you’ll have much larger and healthier plants to plant when the rains do finally come. In fact some gardeners including myself purchase, pot-up and store our new plants all through the dry season waiting for the wet season to start so we can plant everything at the most suitable time of the year.

The dry season is also the ideal time to do a bit of plant culling. Plants that have underperformed, outgrown their welcome, died, or you simply don’t like the looks of can be removed to make room for new ones. And because the wet isn’t here yet, you can do this at your own pace and without all the rain, sweat and complaining.

You’ll even have plenty of time to ponder about what you’ll plant in its place. It doesn’t have to stop with the removal either. It’s actually the best time to prepare the ground for the replacement plant, because it’s much more pleasant doing this in the dry than the wet. Dig out the roots of the old plant, loosen the soil and then cover it with a good layer of mulch to prevent the weeds from invading the newly prepared space. And this way you’ll have till January to make up your mind as to what should be planted there. Who knows? If you’re after something really specific, it may take you all that time to find it.

Then once the rains start, all you need to do is bring your collection of plants out of storage, move the mulch to one side, dig a hole in the previous prepared soil, pop in the pre-determined plant, move the mulch back into place, water it, and you’re done. Simple as that.

Marcus Achatz
Yuruga Nursery

(Published in Cairns City Life magazine, August 2009)