Heat no ex­cuse for plant ne­glect

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Robyn Gul­liver Robyn Gul­liver is a for­mer mem­ber of the Kar­ratha En­viro Group.

It might be 40C out­side with both plants and peo­ple feel­ing wilted, but for many hardy Pil­bara folk that is no ex­cuse to ne­glect gar­den­ing.

Even Pil­bara gar­dens can be kept ac­tive and healthy over sum­mer to help cre­ate a rich grow­ing medium for the next sea­son.

While there are only a few veg­eta­bles that can with­stand the ex­treme sum­mer heat, the most im­por­tant part of the gar­den — the soil — can be re­vived and re­stored over sum­mer by sow­ing a va­ri­ety of ni­tro­gen-fix­ing plants.

Ni­tro­gen-fix­ing plants come in a huge range of shapes and sizes.

Their pri­mary role is to fix ni­tro­gen from the air as they grow by us­ing bac­te­ria called rhi­zo­bia, which con­vert ni­tro­gen and store it in the roots of the plant.

Af­ter the sum­mer sea­son comes to an end and prepa­ra­tion for the au­tumn/win­ter grow­ing sea­son be­gins, sim­ply dig the plants back into the soil.

Over time, the ni­tro­gen will be re­leased and be­come avail­able as fer­tiliser for other plants un­able to cap­ture ni­tro­gen them­selves.

At the Kar­ratha Com­mu­nity Gar­den, a range of green ma­nure and seeds were sown in late Novem­ber, along with hun­dreds of wheat seeds.

To our lo­cal gar­den­ers’ amaze­ment, it only took a week for the seeds to ger­mi­nate and start their jour­ney up­wards — an in­di­ca­tion of the in­cred­i­ble grow­ing power a warm, shel­tered and ef­fi­ciently ir­ri­gated gar­den patch can achieve in the Pil­bara.

We are lucky to have such won­der­ful gar­den­ing weather, and while the ni­tro­gen-fix­ing plants work their magic over sum­mer, a full range of trop­i­cal and sub­trop­i­cal plants will con­tinue to thrive and pro­duce.

Over the sum­mer pe­riod, reg­u­lar har­vest­ing of paw paws, pas­sion­fruit and mel­ons in the com­mu­nity gar­den will con­tinue.

With just a lit­tle care and over­sight, the gar­den will still be healthy and grow­ing, de­spite the ever-in­creas­ing heat ex­pe­ri­enced ev­ery year.

With lush plants and rich soil, 2016’s first busy bee in April will be a sight to be­hold.

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