To have a thriving garden your plants need three essential items
All living things need water to survive and plants are no exception. Most plants do best in a free draining soil but the soil needs to be able to hold enough water for a plant to be able to uptake this valuable resource. Most of a plants nutrients are transported to the roots via moisture but the roots must also have some air around them to absorb oxygen.
The AutoPot self watering range allows the plant to access water when it needs it using the AQUAvalve technology. This is the easiest of systems to use in a greenhouse or patio situation.
When planning your outdoor garden you must think of how you are going to consistently deliver water to the plants. You cannot rely on the natural weather patterns to provide sufficient rain especially after the extended hot summers we have been having. Hand watering via a hose is the most commonly used option but have a look at the AquaBox Spyder self watering system. This system conserves water by using capillary matting dug into the garden. The system wicks water out to the edges of the garden under the soil so there is no exposed water for evaporation.
Sandy soils do not retain water and although plants have adapted to this the majority of edible plants need more water than a straight sandy soil can retain. If you soil falls into this category the best thing you can do is add lots of compost to enhance the water retention.
Heavy soils such as clay usually do not have good water penetration and do not allow for the air around the roots. These soils can be lightened using sand, compost and especially gypsum. Gypsum is a Calcium sulphate mineral that improves soil structure and water retention.
All plants need food. In the soil the food is provided by mineral fertilisers and by the worms and microbes in the soil. These microbes release nutrients as they digest the humus in the soil. You can increase the humus by using composts, mulch and things like seaweed teas. When growing in pots you can use a good quality potting mix with a slow release fertiliser but as time progresses the plant will use all the nutrients available and you must feed the plant. There are a number of great fertilisers available for this. Using the AutoPot range you can add the mineral fertiliser to the water reservoir to both feed and water the plant.
Different plants need different levels of nutrition. Plants such as herbs are termed low feeders and require less than fruiting plants. Tomatoes, strawberries and rhubarb are considered High feeders as they thrive when there are high levels of fertilisers or humus in the soil.
The last essential for our plants is protection. Protection from pests and from the extremes of the weather. Pests are the bane of all gardeners. They are determined to celebrate your harvest way before it's ready for you to pick. The simplest way outdoors is to use netting over your garden. This will stop birds from digging up the new seedlings for worms and if you use a fine net possibly insects from destroying your hard work. When frosts are about a good quality frost cloth can be used to keep the damage from frosts to a minimum.
All plants are susceptible to mould and fungal diseases and these can be kept to a minimum by spacing your plants so they have air circulating around them and by using simple organic sprays.
Each of these items will be detailed in further blog posts. Meanwhile nothing beats experience so give it a go.