Life & Style Weekend - - GARDEN - GREEN THUMB WORDS: MA­REE CUR­RAN Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­

Sum­mer gar­den­ing can be a bit chal­leng­ing. It’s im­por­tant to en­sure your plants, like you, have all they need to sur­vive and thrive in the heat. Here are my favourite tips for help­ing your gar­den sur­vive the sum­mer with a min­i­mum of ef­fort. If you are es­tab­lish­ing new plants that will be in the ground for a while, use water crys­tals, soaked in a weak sea­weed so­lu­tion to pro­mote root de­vel­op­ment, in the bot­tom of the plant­ing hole. Don’t use them in the vegie gar­den or gar­den beds that you dig over as you will end up with crys­tals near the sur­face of the soil, which is not good. Mulching is the other great water saver. Ev­ery gar­den bed and ev­ery pot should be pro­tected with a layer of mulch. Use what­ever you like, so long as it is free of weeds and seeds. If soil or pot­ting mix gets re­ally dry, it can be­come water re­pel­lent, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to wet again. If this hap­pens, you will need to cor­rect the prob­lem by us­ing soil wet­ters. Look for those that are based on nat­u­ral sub­stances rather than petroleum de­riv­a­tives. Plant se­lec­tion is the other key thing for sur­viv­ing the sum­mer heat. Mediter­ranean herbs, like rose­mary, oregano, mar­jo­ram, thyme and basil, don’t re­ally care how hot it gets. Ten­der ones like co­rian­der and dill will go to seed more quickly in sum­mer, so plant them where they will get just a few hours of sun in the morn­ing and be in the shade for the rest of the day. Choose loose leaf va­ri­eties of let­tuce and grow them in semi-shade. You can put a sim­ple light shade struc­ture over your vegie gar­den for the next few months to pro­tect your crops. Toma­toes, chill­ies, cap­sicum, sweet corn, cu­cum­bers, beans, egg­plants, wa­ter­mel­ons, rock­mel­ons and pump­kins will all thrive through sum­mer. Car­ing for a gar­den is a bit like car­ing for a fam­ily or a pet. You need to be ob­ser­vant and re­spon­sive, and be pre­pared to hang in there even when the go­ing gets a bit tough.

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