30 April 2013

April 2013

Australia is a beautiful place with a diverse topography and climate.

From Paradise in the Otway ranges (above) to the deserts where few plants can survive, they are all beautiful in there own way.  But Australia can be a hard place to live at times, with droughts and floods and bushfires threatening our safety and wellbeing. 

Australian gardeners regularly face drought.  Our gardens can be devastated as municipal water storages are run down, and mandatory restrictions on water supply take force.

In my home city of Melbourne, we recently had to contend with a 13 year drought.  Water use was restricted to 155 litres per person per day, and watering the garden was heavily regulated.

Many people abandoned their gardens, but some took steps to keep them going.  Here are a few measures commonly used.
  • Dry climate plants (including native Australian) were planted instead of water hungry "exotic" plants from around the world.
  • Large private rainwater tanks were installed to supplement water supplies.  A common sight even in the cities where municipal water reserves are normally secure.
  • Drip line irrigation was used to cut water use in flower beds, vegetable gardens and orchards. 
  • Large quantities of compost was added to soil to increase it's water holding capacity.  Losses to the subsoil and to the air by evaporation were minimised.
  • Soil was covered with thick mulch wherever possible to reduce surface evaporation.
  • Permaculture, a sophisticated approach to land management was used on larger properties to capture water using swales and dams.
  • Ecobeds which store water beneath the plant's growing area were used to reduce water losses to the subsoil and the air (by evaporation).
These practices have been ongoing for me even after the drought broke over 2 years ago.  I am far less dependant now, not only on water, but also on other external supplies such as fertilisers and pesticides.  

The pages of this blog explain how my organic garden works, and the posts I make will keep the blog up to date on progress as the garden continues to develop.