As soon as the weather warms up, we're all itching to jump into the garden and start potting and planting! So many delicious Summer veg to prepare for, and flowers of every shade and shape entice us to pot up!
Here are 5 of my most practical tips to consider as you plan your Spring/Summer Balcony or compact space.
Before rushing out and planting whatever you see, it's best to familiarise yourself with your climate zone. Too often, you will see posts or magazines talking about the seasonal plants available; however, the decision about which plants and when to sow seeds is best made when you know what grows well in your area. So read the Know Your Balcony Garden Growing Zone and plan your seed raising, seedlings or plant purchases, knowing what will grow well.
Many gardeners aren't aware of the plants' growing requirements they see in catalogues and the nursery. It's imperative to know this! Willing a Tomato plant to grow in a shady area will be fruitless; similarly unsuccessful will be Ginger in the scorching midday sun and Roses in damp, dark spots. So, be sure to do a lot of research and reading about your desired plantings and plan your space to work out how to accommodate the needs of your plants.
Grow bag and container growing adds versatility to your garden through the seasons as they are portable and can be moved around to optimal positions for your plants. Some other suggested planning considerations include -
Create a sun/shade map for your yard – figure out where you get the most sun and shade so you can place plants where they will thrive!
Plan to use companion planting in your garden – which plants get along and help each other grow better? Herbs, vegetables and flowers can help to fight pests and grow healthier harvests if you plant the right combinations.
Learn how to create a bee-friendly garden – bees need our help, especially in urban areas! Investigate hosting a Stingless Native Bee Hive in your small space! Plan out a bee-friendly space to help our pollinator friends.
It's always a good idea to wash and clean all your pots before re-planting them up with new annuals for the season. This helps to limit pests and diseases. Root Pouch grow bags, plastic and terracotta containers can easily be washed and any algae or salt deposits growth removed. Check out the Root Pouch cleaning tips video.
If being moved from the last season container or bed, Olla Waterpots can be lightly scrubbed and re-used in your Spring garden. Check out the Waterpot Olla cleaning tips video
If you are a new grower, I recommend that you stick with commercial potting mixes and purchase the best quality that you can find, which will provide your plants with the nutrition they need.
Growers in their second or third season may like to try their hand at making their potting mix using amendments added to the spent mix from the previous season. Don't be tempted to re-use the old mix without refreshing it as you will find the nutrients will generally be spent, and the soil condition will be inhospitable for your new plants. There are many recipes available on the internet and books written about this topic. Check out the Make Potting Mix Recipe card on our website for the how to's of making your no-waste mix and saving heaps of money!
Test your soil with a home pH test kit, which is available at most home and garden stores of all sizes, test the quality of the soil itself. This allows you to check that your soil pH is where it should be to encourage growth. Based on the results, you'll be able to make minor adjustments by feeding your soil anything it is missing. Heaps of information on the internet about why this is important to your plants, so, as in Tip 2, know what the requirements of your plant concerning the pH of the soil, particularly if making your own! Blueberries, for example, need acidic soil, so your standard bagged potting mix for vegetables may not be suitable for your Blueberry plant, and a proprietary blend for Azaleas and Camelias is preferred, or make your own.
Spring is the perfect time to apply a general fertiliser to most garden plants. For best results when growing in pots, a soluble fertiliser works better than a slow-release form, especially if you are using Waterpot Ollas and are not surface watering your plants except for with rainwater. Every two weeks or so, when there has not been rain, give your container with olla a solid drenching to flush out any toxins and make available any fertiliser in the potting mix. Again, know the nutrient requirements of your plants and speak to your nursery horticulturalists for the best preparations in their store.
Whether you’re an infamous black thumb, a forgetful gardener, or you’ve had dreams of gardening glory but were somehow always waylaid, well, spring gardening is your calling and we have the products to make it a proverbial walk in the park …better still… a Spring Garden!
Some simple words of truth about maximising your space in a small space garden situation. Sharing the love of small space growing with the clients of APIA Australia recently talking about how to build a thriving garden on your balcony. The most common gardening myth is that you need space to build a garden - let's bust that myth!