In the midst of this unusually hot and dry summer, even seasoned gardeners are struggling to give proper care and maintenance to their beloved gardens and plants.
With the spectre of climate change lurking, rising ocean temperatures and reduced rainfall levels, many experts believe that dry summers could well become the new norm here in New Zealand.
In fact, climatologists have indicated that this summer may well surpass the record sizzling heat of Summer 1934-35.
Is this summer a flash in the pan?
Unlikely. A change is coming, and it looks increasingly likely that we will need to start planting more plants suited to a hotter, more tropical environment.
Hot, dry sun can be very harsh on plants, especially non-native plants or those weak from neglect. Hot soils also hinder plant growth.
Shallow rooted and container plants are particularly affected by soil heat build up. Deeper growing roots penetrate to a level of better soil temperature and moisture, which is why new seeds struggle in the heat.
Compounding the problem, the recent increase in hot, dry wind has caused huge amounts of moisture loss from the foliage of many plants, resulting in wilting.
So how can we make sure our poor plants survive the relentless heat of modern New Zealand Summers?
Good preparation and dedication to garden duty are the order of the day!
The first thing we recommend is digging our organic compost into your garden soil. Compost holds water and moisture, as well as replenishes soil with much needed nutrients.
Next, give your soil and plant beddings a thorough watering and then mulch well.
Due to the sandy soils prevalent here on the Kapiti Coast, we are prone to losing moisture to evaporation more rapidly than more inland parts of New Zealand, so mulching is absolutely essential as it provides a layer of cover to stop the moisture evaporating and being lost. Mulches also suppress weeds, keep soil nice and cool, increase soil fertility as it decomposes and (of course) make your garden look nice and attractive.
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Mulch breaks down naturally over time so make sure to be vigilant in topping up levels, whilst also making sure to keep at least an inch away from plant stems to avoid rot and fungus.
We have an extensive range of mulches for you to pick from here at Composting New Zealand. If you’re unsure which mulch is best for your project, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you make the right choice.
Finally, keep your garden well watered (within the allowances of any hosepipe bans of course!), in order to stabilise soil temperature. Remember, irrigation is essential in order to maintain good plant health during hot, dry summers.