Heat no excuse for plant neglect
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.