Resilience is a quality that helps us survive life’s challenges, but it doesn’t just apply to people. Resilient plants are those that can survive the stress of water scarcity, unpredictable weather and other aspects of climate change.
The possibility of El Nino this coming summer doesn’t mean the end of our gardens. There are ways to build in resilience, by keeping some basic gardening principles in mind.
Build fertile soil
Plants are healthier, more drought and heat resistant if their roots are in soil that is fertile and drains well. Putting time and effort into enriching the soil before planting and renewing the soil around established perennials, shrubs and trees sets a solid foundation for the summer to come.
Healthy soil contains millions of micro-organisms that increase soil fertility by breaking down carbon and minerals into nutrients, making them accessible to plants.
A carbon rich soil supports these micro-organisms so they can do their work. The best sources of carbon are compost and carbon based soil conditioners, that help the soil retain nutrients for longer.
Humate Crystals and Liquid, produced by Andermatt Madumbi, is an easy to apply concentrated soil conditioner using extracts of humic acid sourced from ancient Leonardite deposits.
In liquid form it can be used as a soil drench, or the granules can be sprinkled over the soil. Before applying, loosen compact soil to a depth of 30cm or till lightly. Water well after applying and plant the following day or cover with an organic mulch if planting later.
Give plants a good start
This is the month we’ve been waiting for, all winter long. The garden centres are full of irresistible flowers, veggies and shrubs ready to be planted.
Whether you’re planting a bed of impatiens, a row of spinach or sowing spring veggies like lettuce, beetroot and carrots, get them established quickly with strong roots by using a soil drench that protects roots from soil disease and provides the right nutrients for early growth.
V12 Initiate is a blend of micro-nutrients, particularly boron (B), silica (S) and calcium (C), that play a particularly important role during early plant growth and development. It also reduces transplant stress.
Eco-T contains a natural, beneficial fungus which grows symbiotically with plant roots. It also paralyses and destroys soil pathogens, reducing the risk of root disease, which aids root development and improves germination.
These two can be mixed together in a watering can and applied as a drench. Humate Liquid can be added for soil health and to improve the structure of the soil. Should more than the recommended dose be given, it will not burn the leaves or the roots. Repeat the drench two weeks after planting or transplanting.
For more information : Plant Vitality – Andermatt Madumbi
Note for veggie growers: Soil borne diseases affect the productivity and health of plants, especially vegetables, more than most gardeners realise. The bottom line is that veggie gardeners want a good harvest and it is worth investing in that.
For organic gardeners, a biological product like Eco-T ensures a strong and disease-free root system that helps to strengthen the plant’s immune system and its ability to fight off disease.
Other natural ways to ensure root health include rotating your planting, so that the same crop is not planted in the same space every season, ensuring good drainage so that roots don’t stand in water, and companion planting, such as marigolds to inhibit nematodes that attack roots.
For more information: Root Health – Andermatt Madumbi
Monthly nutrition is must
Plants draw on nutrients as they grow and nutrients also leach away through watering and heavy rainfall. For sustained growth, replace nutrients on a monthly basis, using liquid or granular organic fertiliser.
The stronger the plants are the less water they need, and they are better able to withstand, disease and pests. A good idea is to set up a routine, by deciding on a day, at the beginning or in the middle of each month, to fertilise the garden.
V12 Multi is a drench or foliar feed for vegetables, herbs, flowers, outdoor and indoor container plants. It is an “all-in-one” plant tonic, containing a blend of nutrition including macro and micro-nutrients that stimulates growth and plant wellness. Use 5 ml (one capful) in 5 litres of water.
It can be mixed with Chronos, a fungicide for black spot, or Amylo-X, a preventive bacteriological inoculant that suppresses powdery mildew and downy mildew.
For more information: Plant Vitality – Andermatt Madumbi
Mulch the surface of the soil to conserve the water in the soil. A layer of mulch should only be 1 – 2cm thick. The finer the mulch the thinner the layer. Rather have a very light mulch that is replaced often.
Over watering is as harmful as under watering. Check the moisture level of the soil using the knuckle test. Test the soil by pushing your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. If the first 2 -5cm of soil feels dry, then the plants should be watered. If the soil is still damp watering can be delayed by a day or so.
Group plants according to their water needs. For instance, plant veggies with deep roots (tomatoes, peppers) together because they like deep water less often than shallow rooted plants (salad and leafy greens) that need less water more often.
Install a rain gauge. If the rainfall is less than 10mm check the soil to see if watering is necessary. Less than 5mm of rain means that watering is necessary. Don’t let the presence of puddles give you a false sense of security.
Buy online: Andermatt Madumbi biological and organic products (Humate Crystals and Liquid, Eco-T root protection and the Plant Vitality range V12 Initiate and V12 Multi) can be ordered online from www.andermatt.co.za
TEXT: Alice Coetzee.