With temperatures rising around the world and especially in New Zealand, the importance of soil quality is greater than ever.
Your soil needs to be able to hold moisture and to retain it.
If, like me, you live on an island that relies on water from the sky and nothing else to grow your food, the lessons to learn in making quality water retentive soil are simply crucial.
Here are my top three recommendations to help your soil to make the most of water this summer.
For me, the best answer to this challenge is to compost using Bokashi and then use this in your soil.
Bokashi is an anaerobic, closed fermentation composting system used to process your food scraps. When the precious deposits of this process are returned to the soil, this increases the water holding capacity for your plants to access. It also puts valuable microbes into the soil and enhances plant health, strength, colour and vibrancy of your plants, which in turn means you have to water less. In my mind, it is also a way all our food could get diverted away from landfill.
Another way to help retain moisture in the soil is to mulch. Mulching on top of your soil will help to reflect the sun and keep your soil cooler, in turn making more moisture available to your plants as the soil will be cooler.
It is a big myth that in the hot summer months, your plants need watering every day. In fact, over-watering can create many problems in summer crops, as the roots will stay closer to the surface and become accustomed to being watered every day. Watering 2 -3 times a week is much better for your plants as their roots will go further down into the soil to keep cool and will also make for a stronger plant.
Please remember when watering to do so around the base of the plants as this will prevent disease and also stop the leaves from burning when the sun becomes hot. I also find the best time to water is early morning as the plants are actively growing during the day and resting at night. If you water at night then this can encourage more disease.
Follow these tips to help make your water go further in the garden this summer.
My final tip is to ensure that you remember to remove infected or diseased leaves from your plants over summer and watch out for the start of powdery mildew on your zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins. If you see the start of powdery mildew, try spraying with a dilution of half milk (full fat), half water first thing in the morning before the sun becomes too hot. This natural, organic elixir helps to keep it at bay.
Happy gardening in the sunshine!