Mulch Now!!! The soil is nicely wet but still warm, as it cools down more slowly than the air. Seal in these lovely soil conditions with a good layer of mulch.
Mulch doesn’t just mean just wood-chip; it’s anything laid along the surface of the soil. It keeps away weeds (providing it’s laid thickly enough), it helps retain this moisture in the soil (meaning less watering over summer), and organic mulches (as opposed to pebbles) also break down to improve your soil, feeding soil life such as worms.
Weed an area before you mulch, paying special attention to perennial weeds like kikuyu or those that have seeds. Then spread on a good thick layer, and you won’t have to weed again for months. Once a garden has been thickly mulched – we’re talking a 10cm layer that fully blocks light reaching the soil surface – it should only need top-ups to any bare patches for the next few years. Re-apply when the mulch has broken down and is no longer suppressing weeds.
Cocoa husks make great-smelling mulch
Best Value Mulch: Grow your own - eg blue lupin – from a sprinkling of seed. Or use fallen leaves under trees or shrubs. Arborist chip is also cheap (even free from a friendly arborist!)
Best Nutrients: Seaweed or compost. Use these for high-need plants like fruit trees and roses.
Best for Veges: Straw is light and lets the rain through.
Best in a hot spot: Pebbles or rocks make long-lived mulch, in open areas away from falling leaves (otherwise they can become high-maintenance).
Best-Smelling: Cocoa husks are light but long-lasting, great around perennials.
Watch for: Don’t smother tussocks and grasses with mulch. Their growing tip is at ground level, so keep that clear. Soft things like lavenders and succulents can also rot if over-mulched – use a drier mulch such as pebbles around these.
In mid-winter the last thing on most people’s minds is irrigation. Winter however, is a good time to set up rain tanks. It’s a bit like the old adage of the Arkansas fiddler, who couldn’t fix his roof when it was raining, “and my roof never leaks when it doesn’t rain.”
Don’t leave it until midsummer to think about irrigation. Watering systems don’t have to be expensive, and you don’t need lots of technical skills and tools to rig them up. You can find out more about rainbarrels in the upcoming No8 Wire workshop series aimed at providing know-how for low-cost, DIY hacks to make your lifestyle more sustainable.
DIY RAIN BARRELS
FRIDAY 21ST JULY, 11AM ONWARDS, NGAHINA KINDERGARTEN/KĀPITI SCHOOL COMMUNITY GARDEN
Watch and learn as Brian Falkner of RainHarvest Products installs a simple downpipe diverter and two-barrel system on a plastic pallet stand. Bring the kids along and check out the developing community garden space. Find out more and register.
Other garden-themed No8 Wire Week workshops:
EVERYTHING BUT THE BEES
SUNDAY 16TH JULY, 11:30 - 1:00PM, ŌTAKI COLLEGE
Take part in interactive demonstrations to discover and sample the incredible benefits and products that bees provide. Also, find out how we can help make sure that bees are around for future generations.
FRESHLY FORAGED SOUP
SATURDAY 15TH JULY, 10:00 - 11:30AM, ŌTAKI COLLEGE GARDEN & KITCHEN
Green Gardener Hannah Zwartz will forage the college garden for edibles, then transform them into a pot of tasty soup in the college kitchen. Ka pai te kai! Find out more and register.
GET MOBILE, GET GARDENING
SUNDAY 16TH JULY, 10:00 - 11:30AM, ŌTAKI COLLEGE
Improve mobility when gardening. Learn five smart tips so you can move more easily and feel good the next day. No stretching or straining involved, the tips help no matter what your level of mobility.
SATURDAY 22ND JULY, 11:30 - 1:00PM, KĀPITI COLLEGE
Hannah Zwartz will walk you through creating an asparagus bed. Once a bed’s established you can keep picking this spring treat for 20 years or more. Bring garden gloves and suitable shoes. Find out more and register.
LAWNMOWER MAINTENANCE WORKSHOP
SUNDAY 23RD JULY, 1:30 - 3:00PM, KĀPITI COLLEGE
Come along and learn basic maintenance of how to look after your lawnmower. Find out more and register.
ORGANIC WEED MANAGEMENT
SUNDAY 23RD JULY, 3:00 - 4:30PM, KĀPITI COLLEGE GARDEN
Weeds are a part of every garden. Find out about good weeds, edible weeds, medicinal weeds, weeds that aren’t worth fretting over and weeds that certainly are. Find out more and register.
SUNDAY 16TH JULY, 3:00 - 4:30PM, ŌTAKI COLLEGE GARDEN
A gathering of gardeners from expert to novice. Learn from the locals and find out about the Kāpiti seed bank. Bring and swap any seeds you have and learn how to store them for next season. Find out more and register.
THE ART OF PRESERVING
SUNDAY 23RD JULY, 1:30 - 3:30PM, KĀPITI COLLEGE
Learn the basics of preserving including sterilisation, different methods, and ideas for every season. You will make a grapefruit curd as well as another item using locally grown seasonal produce. Find out more and register.
The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools.
Community Visits and workshops are free.
To contact the Greener Gardener, call the Council on 296 4700 or 0800 486 486 or see www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/greenservices