In the garden… in July

What a great time of year to be out in the garden!

For a start, it’s cool. What a blessing here in the tropics – it’s amazing how much more physical you can get when you don’t overheat within the first five seconds of sinking the spade into the ground. It’s just wonderful to be able to get down, dirty and physical out in the fresh air and sunshine without running the risk of heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Make the most of it. In just a few short weeks it could very well be hot again.

Lately the weather has been overcast and drizzly. Depressing and horrible from a person-perspective, but great if you’re a newly planted plant – lower evaporation rate, less water-stress, less transplant shock and greater chance of successful establishment. This is a great time of year to get plants into the ground.

Mind you, if you plant now, don’t expect to see much growth above ground during the cooler months. In fact, it may look like nothing’s happening at all and you may wonder why you bothered, but actually there’s a huge advantage in planting now rather than waiting until the wet season. The plant may not put out any shoot growth above ground, but it will be working furiously below ground putting out root growth. And roots are the plant’s foundations and engine room. So, when the weather warms up and the wet season rains start, the plants will literally leap out of the ground.

If you want to get maximum growth of your plants in the next wet season, the trick is to plant now. The growth you will get during the wet season will simply astound you.

A few hints for successful planting at this time of year…

Firstly, don’t forget the mulch. It may be drizzly and damp at the moment, but we are heading into the dry season. A thick layer of organic mulch will be critical to ensuring the survival of your new plants as the dry kicks in and the weather warms up again.

Secondly, don’t forget to water your plants in thoroughly when you plant. Even though it may be cool and overcast, your new plants must have a good soaking at planting. Give each plant the equivalent of at least a bucket-full as soon as you have finished planting. Failing to do this is one of the main reasons that new plants die.

Thirdly, give your new plants the best possible start in life by digging the soil really thoroughly so that it’s nice and loose to allow the development of big strong root systems. And don’t accidentally poison them by putting fertiliser in the bottom the hole. Believe me, it is all too easy to kill plants by overdoing the fertiliser, so don’t run the risk.

When you think about it, July has a lot going for it in the garden.

So… happy gardening this month, and see you at Yuruga!
Peter and Ann