Friday, February 25, 2011

Perth's sandy soil

Welcome to our new gardening blog! We have travelled across the continent from Canberra where we enjoyed pottering about in our garden there, to take up residence here in sunny, sandy Perth!

We are currently renting so there are a few things we are thinking about in terms of how we go about setting up our new garden here. Firstly and most pressing is the very sandy soil. Perth literally sits on a sand dune, making gardening a real challenge.

Being a Gardening Australia viewer, I always enjoy Perth-based presenter, Josh Byrnes's advice, and he shares some tips for dealing with sandy soil as well as his ideas for those who live in rentals. Josh reckons the sandy Perth soil is "gutless", especially for fruit trees, which we'd love to grow (probably in pots though):
"To fix this type of soil add some key ingredients. Bentonite clay helps retain nutrients, compost adds organic matter to the soil, rock minerals provide trace elements, pelletised manure adds a slow release fertiliser, and blood and bone."
Basically, Josh says to use four basic ingredients to help build up sandy soil:
  1. a surfactant-based wetting agent, to beat hydrophobia
  2. organic matter, like aged sheep manure
  3. ground rock dust (for trace elements and minerals)
  4. mulch to minimise evaporation, something like pea straw, for example.
For vegies it's also good to add a finer type of compost and use seaweed and/or fish emulsion to boast growth.

Site for raised beds

We are choosing to put in some raised beds along a north-facing fenceline. This way we avoid much of the sandy soil and can contain the garden in an otherwise large open space in the backyard of the property. We also have an opportunity to do these in "no dig" style - great for me as I'm 6 months pregnant! Again, there's a good step-by-step how to guide via the Gardening Australia website.

We have a compost bin going already and will also set up our worm farm once more, so just a matter of spending a small amount of time on these preparations and we are underway! To start, we have put in two large planter boxes for herbs - it's nice to have just that little bit of green (Clancy has a pot of flowers too).

Fairy flowers

I can't wait - we've only been away from Canberra for about 4 weeks and I miss my gardening heaps!

Anyway... happy gardening!

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