Ready for Winter - fertility garden challenge
Hi Hive gardeners! It's a time of change in our gardens, whichever hemisphere you live in and here is my response to this month's garden challenge.
Let's first take a moment, though, to send some love to those folks in the Ukraine who have had their gardens and their chance to garden taken away from them because of a certain Russian gentleman and his cronies....
This month's challenge challenge is about fertility and this is a great time in South Australia to give the garden a little extra feed before the cold weather comes (maybe).
The garden is starting to look empty.
We fertilize to feed the plants that go dormant so they can stay immune from disease and so that they have a little reserve for when they wake up. Winter dormant plants don't stop living and metabolising during their dormant period, they shift to a different series of biochemical processes, aided by a different group of soil microbes.
We also fertilize to feed the plants that will stay awake with us and, as their microbial balance changes, they need a little extra food. We don't fertilize too much though, that might encourage a lot of young, soft growth that will be easily burned by frost (which we're getting more of here every year). Of course, if soft, young growth is what you want, especially in leafy Winter greens, go nuts.
Here's a tip: If your plants get frost damage, don't succumb to the urge to remove the damaged parts. Leaving them means that the frost will damage those parts again but not do much additional damage to the rest of the plant. It may look unsightly but it will mean healthier plants.
Ready for the mulcher!
I like to the prune trees early at Ligaya Garden, it lets that other natural fertilizer. Sunlight, get to the plants at ground level and that means that the soil microbes get a kick too.
Plants are pretty lazy things (lazier than this gardener?) and microbes and fungi do most of their work for them, they just look pretty while others do their work for them.
Look after your microbes and they'll look after you. They are the keys to fertility in your garden and, regardless of how much fertilizers you add to your soil, the fertility won't improve without the help of the trillions of little critters that live in the soil and right inside your plants too.
Chop 'n' Drop composting (aka 'not tidying up' is my favourite style of composting!).