Soak up water rules

HUNTER Water has recently announced some minor water restrictions which water-wise gardeners won't be fazed by, but the announcement did remind me to encourage gardeners to implement water-saving protection for the hotter months.

The nursery industry is constantly developing new products to assist water retention and propagating plants that aren't thirsty for those living in drier areas of our country.

I must say that much has been done, particularly in drought-affected states, by our industry to ensure that gardeners conserve water, but whenever restrictions are announced it is the garden that is hit.

Let's consider Hunter Water's new restrictions.

We are still able to use sprinkler systems, automatic irrigation and hand-held hoses fitted with spray nozzles every day, but not between 10am and 4pm.

So for the gardener survival through the middle of the day in summer will be by maintaining mulching, deep soaking in the morning and night and the application of products such as Saturaid and Water Crystals.

Controlled watering systems delivering water directly to the plant and the investment of a simple timer that turns off at the tap will ensure your garden and Hunter Water are happy.

Plants growing in containers can also be watered by irrigation systems, but the secret will be using a good potting mix that contains water retention agents, fertiliser and carries the government standards.

Trust me, price tells the story and I would venture to say that any potting medium under $8 to $10 will require the addition of products that hold moisture.

Cheap mixes are only good for filling holes or the bottom of large pots; bed the plant itself into a quality mix to give the root system a chance of growing.

Within a couple of months any mix or soil will need rejuvenation with slow release fertiliser and a watering agent.

Moisture can also be retained by mixing through peat moss and also applying the peat to the surface.

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