Category: Understanding Your Soil

What is Hydrophobic soil and how to fix it with soil wetting agents

Hydrophobic Soil – What is it, and how to fix it?

Water is a key element for plants to live. Without proper watering, your garden has no chance of survival. Unfortunately, in a lot of regions in Australia, the problem of hydrophobic soils occurs, which means that getting the water to where it needs to be, can be a bit of problem.  Read on to find out what hydrophobic soil means for you and how can we fix it. Read more

How to Grow a Greener Garden

As you look out onto your garden, you probably see a lot of green. However, the garden you grow might not actually be green. Earth-conscious gardeners employ many tactics to ensure that their flowers, shrubbery, fruits, and vegetables are grown in an environmentally-friendly way. Adopt one, two, or all ten and reap the benefits of a garden that’s both beautiful and sustainable.

Ditch the Chemicals

It probably goes without saying, but a green garden grows without the aid of chemicals and pesticides. Your plants can be well-fed without the use of unnatural fertilizers (more on that later), and you can steer clear of pests without the use of pesticides (more on that later, too). This is especially vital if you’re growing produce in your garden. Read more

Sustainable Gardening Tips 

Hi there, thanks for checking out Aussie Green Thumb, I appreciate it. If you want more, including a free buyers guide to my favourite gardening tools, click here for all my best adviceexclusive content and FREE bonuses!

Note from Jim: Claudia from Rain Water Tanks Direct has sent kindly provided this fantastic article full of sustainable gardening tips to share with the Aussie Green Thumb audience. After reading through this as well as a recent trip to Africa you might see more articles around sustainable and permaculture gardening in the next few months, so keep an eye out. But for now, take it away Claudia! 

Many gardeners have sustainability in mind. Growing the food you eat, after all, is a big step to living a sustainable way of life. Compared to non-organic methods, organic methods are definitely more sustainable, not only for human health, but also for wildlife, the water, and the soil. Sustainable gardening, however, goes beyond the use of organic techniques. From energy and water conservation to the reduction of waste, there are so many ways to make our gardening practices more sustainable.

There are so many sustainable gardening tips you can follow, and below are just a few of them. Read more

30 Days to Grow a Better Garden – Day 15 Report: Weeds

WeedsToday’s report is about weeds. This month at AussieGreenThumb.com is ‘So You Want A Better Garden’ Month, which aims to teach you how to garden. As part of that I am running a 30 day challenge. The challenge consists of daily tasks of about 10 minutes each. I guarantee that if you complete each days task, by the end of September you will be well on your way towards reaching your gardening goals and growing better gardens. Will you accept the challenge?

Day 15 Challenge RecapSpend 10 minutes removing the weeds from your garden. Weeds steal nutrients from your soil that your other plants could use. If you limit your weeds you will enable your wanted plants to have access to more nutrients. I also want you to get in the habit of weeding in small doses as a more likely way for you to keep your garden free from weeds. 10 minutes weeding every few days will increase the likelihood of you actually continually working on the weeds.

Report
Another weeding challenge is complete. This time I started working out the back. During this particular season my herb garden is actually empty. This is mostly because I haven’t gotten around to planting anything new. Yes, even I have trouble fitting everything I want to do in the garden into my life! I decided to leave my herb garden fallow for this season and, of course, it has become overflowing with weeds! Today I spent 10 minutes and removed them all, leaving the garden bed weed free and ready for some new plants at any time.

The reason I set this challenge
By now you should be noticing a trend. I am encouraging you to spend 10 minutes weeding every few days. What I have found is just getting out in my garden and removing the weeds every few days minimises the amount of time I actually have to spend weeding. Each of these days that I spend 10 minutes, I actually spend the first 1-2 minutes quickly plucking out any weeds that have started to grow in my previously weeded beds. Because I do this, it keeps the weeds at bay. Eventually I should be able to spend 10-20 minutes a week max and, except for peak weed seasons, keep my garden quite free from weeds.

Learn more about understanding your soil
This challenge fits into the category of understanding your soil, specifically how weeds rob your garden beds of important nutrients. Intrigued to know more about how understanding your soil will impact on your garden? I recently released an ebook called So You Want A Better Garden. Chapter 3 in my ebook delves into the topic of understanding your soil in a way specifically designed to help beginner and intermediate gardeners understand more about how soil impacts on your garden. 

You will learn about;
1. What makes good soil;
2. How to improve your soil consistency;
3. Improving the water situation in your soil;

And much, much more!

Click Here to learn more.

It’s not too late to join the challenge! You can grow a better garden. Start today! The great thing about this challenge is it can run over any 30 day period. Just check out days 1-5 and start from today. You can grow better gardens. Get out there and remove some more weeds today!

30 Days to Grow a Better Garden – Day 14 Report: Mulch

MulchToday’s report is about mulch. This month at AussieGreenThumb.com is ‘So You Want A Better Garden’ Month, which aims to teach you how to garden. As part of that I am running a 30 day challenge. The challenge consists of daily tasks of about 10 minutes each. I guarantee that if you complete each days task, by the end of September you will be well on your way towards reaching your gardening goals and growing better gardens. Will you accept the challenge?

Day 14 Challenge Recap – Do you have mulch on your garden beds? Take 10 minutes to see which garden beds still have a thick (10cm) layer of mulch and which need a top up. Mulch will limit weeds ability to grow and make your job easier. Top up your garden bed as required. It is a good idea to check your garden beds at the beginning of each season, so every 3 months. Keeping a healthy layer of mulch on your soil all year around will also help to improve your soil because as the mulch breaks down, it will become part of the soil and, again, improve soil structure much like manure does.

Report
I have a confession to make…my garden beds are horribly low on mulch. Yes, that is right, even I have trouble making sure I keep my garden beds with a healthy layer of mulch! One of the main topics I cover on this blog is mulching your garden and today’s challenge has made me woefully aware of just how bad a state my garden beds are in at the moment, mulch wise.

Garden bed 1 has a moderate layer of mulch but this could do with a top up.
Garden bed 2 has no mulch but that is because I am still working on turning it into a garden bed after reclaiming it, untill recently it was paved.
Garden bed 3 has no mulch left.
All my vegetable garden beds have a limited layer of mulch from when I last planted. This really needs a top up.
My herb garden is bare, mulch is required.

This task will become a weekend job for me most likely as there is actually some significant work to do. However, the payoff will be a far healthier and better looking gardem!

The reason I set this challenge
If you were to ask me ‘what one thing will most improve my garden’ I would say mulch for the following reasons;

  1. Mulched garden beds looks great;
  2. Mulch helps to lock moisture in the soil, limiting evaporation;
  3. Mulch helps prevent or significantly limit the growth of weeds;
  4. Mulch breaks down adding organic matter to your soil.

As I mentioned above, my garden beds are not in a good state mulch wise at the moment but now, being the beginning of spring, is as good a time as any to catch up! I’d encourage you to do likewise.

Learn more about understanding your soil
This challenge, looking at mulch, falls under the category of understanding your soil. Intrigued to know more about how understanding your soil will impact on your garden? I recently released an ebook called So You Want A Better Garden. Chapter 3 in my ebook delves into the topic of understanding your soil in a way specifically designed to help beginner and intermediate gardeners understand more about how soil impacts on your garden. 

You will learn about;
1. What makes good soil;
2. How to improve your soil consistency;
3. Improving the water situation in your soil;

And much, much more!

Click Here to learn more.

It’s not too late to join the challenge! You can grow a better garden. Start today! The great thing about this challenge is it can run over any 30 day period. Just check out days 1-5 and start from today. You can grow better gardens. Make sure your garden beds have sufficient mulch today.

30 Days to Grow a Better Garden – Day 13 Report: Watering

Today’s report is about watering. This month at AussieGreenThumb.com is ‘So You Want A Better Garden’ Month, which aims to teach you how to garden. As part of that I am running a 30 day challenge. The challenge consists of daily tasks of about 10 minutes each. I guarantee that if you complete each days task, by the end of September you will be well on your way towards reaching your gardening goals and growing better gardens. Will you accept the challenge?

Day 13 Challenge RecapMake sure you spend 10 minutes watering your garden manually today.  Watch the soil as you water. Does the water sink straight into the soil? Does it slowly sink into the soil? Does it form puddles and only very slowly sink into the soil? If it sinks fast your soil has good water drainage. If it sinks but only slowly, you probably need to improve the drainage. If it forms puddles on the surface you have water drainage issues. Either buy a soil wetting agent and apply or use a garden fork and thoroughly poke your garden beds which need drainage improvement.

Report
I think it is safe to say my soil needs a good dose of a wetting agent. Nearly every one of my garden beds had water linger for longer than I am comfortable with during my watering today. You see, this is a task that even regular gardeners will often have to do. Some choose to use wetting agents, like me. Others prefer to use manual, organic methods like turning the soil over or prodding it with a fork. If you are working in the garden often enough you may not even need to do this because you’ll be turning the soil over naturally. However, most people don’t spend ages in the garden and so this is an important step, understanding how to get the most out of watering.

I’ll be honest, I don’t mind using soil wetting agent, even though it is not necessarily organic. However if you would prefer a completely organic garden, you will need to aerate your soil using a garden fork to allow the water to seep down past the upper crust when you are watering.

The reason I set this challenge
Strangely enough, plants having access to the water you provide it is very important. In Australia we traditionally over water our gardens. We don’t mulch enough and we don’t use soil wetting agents, or manual/organic methods, to improve our soils water absorption and drainage. Yes, we have very sandy soils and this allows water to sink well. However, when the sun beams down in summer, the top layer of soil can create a sort of crust which stops, or dramatically slows, water drainage. It also often means water runs off our garden beds and onto our driveways. How do we usually try and solve this? We water more! We add more watering days to our reticulation roster! Making sure your garden bed can actually utilise the water you provide is extremely important in learning how to grow a better garden.

Learn more about understanding your soil
This challenge, looking at watering, falls under the category of understanding your soil. Intrigued to know more about how understanding your soil will impact on your garden? I recently released an ebook called So You Want A Better Garden. Chapter 3 in my ebook delves into the topic of understanding your soil in a way specifically designed to help beginner and intermediate gardeners understand more about how soil impacts on your garden. 

You will learn about;
1. What makes good soil;
2. How to improve your soil consistency;
3. Improving the water situation in your soil;

And much, much more!

Click Here to learn more.

It’s not too late to join the challenge! You can grow a better garden. Start today! The great thing about this challenge is it can run over any 30 day period. Just check out days 1-5 and start from today. You can grow better gardens. Don’t forget, spend some time watering today!

30 Days to Grow a Better Garden – Day 12 Report: Manure

cow manure
All the good stuff has to come from somewhere!

Today’s report is about manure. This month at AussieGreenThumb.com is ‘So You Want A Better Garden’ Month, which aims to help you grow better gardens. As part of that I am running a 30 day challenge. The challenge consists of daily tasks of about 10 minutes each. I guarantee that if you complete each days task, by the end of September you will be well on your way towards reaching your gardening goals and growing better gardens. Will you accept the challenge?

Day 12 Challenge RecapChoose a garden bed to focus on, either your most sandy or most clay filled. Buy some manure (like chicken manure, sheep manure or cow manure). If you have your own compost this will also work. Add approximately one bag of 30L per square metre and mix it into the soil. Manure and compost help improve both sandy and clay based soils. The organic matter within manure improves the soil structure, either helping to lock in nutrients in sandy soil or by breaking up the clay and allowing nutrients to be accessed in clay soils.

Report
Manure and fertiliser (whether it be organic or inorganic) is one of the most important things to add to your soil whether you are looking to improve it or not. Plants require nutrient top ups to really thrive and manure provides this is spades. Of course, different manures provide different levels of nutrients and so it is worth doing a little research to learn what is best for your situation.

Today i added a bag of cow manure to Garden Bed 2 in my front yard. This is the garden bed that was reclaimed from underneath some pavers recently. The reason I used cow manure is because I am actually still not sure what I want to grow there. For now it is too close to a parking spot to decide but this will change in the coming months, making it a valid garden bed to use. As such, I’m starting to prepare for it now.

It will likely be used to grow some Australian native plants. As native plants don’t like too much phosphorous I needed to add a manure low in this. Cow and sheep manure is lowest in nutrients in general, where as chicken and pig manure is higher. This is mostly due to the diet of these animals, sheep and cows eating mostly grass and chicken and pigs often having a more nutritious diet.

The reason I set this challenge
Adding nutrients through manure and fertilisers to your garden is important but it is another task we often put in the too hard basket. If you buy a bag of manure on the way home from work, it really does not take long to add it to a garden bed. Even if were adding 3-4 bags and focusing on one garden bed, this task would only take 15 to 20 minutes max. It is just a matter of ripping the bag open, applying it evenly over the garden bed, where bare soil exists, and then using your shovel to dig it in. Presto!

Learn more about understanding your soil
Intrigued to know more about how understanding your soil will impact on your garden? I recently released an ebook called So You Want A Better Garden. Chapter 3 in my ebook delves into the topic of understanding your soil in a way specifically designed to help beginner and intermediate gardeners understand more about how soil impacts on your garden. 

You will learn about;
1. What makes good soil;
2. How to improve your soil consistency;
3. Improving the water situation in your soil;

And much, much more!

Click Here to learn more.

It’s not too late to join the challenge! You can grow a better garden. Start today! The great thing about this challenge is it can run over any 30 day period. Just check out days 1-5 and start from today. You can grow better gardens. Don’t forget, add some manure today!