Over 50 keen gardeners attended our Bay OK gardening workshop in Vasse earlier this month to learn about creating healthy soil in the garden.
The event featured 6PR garden show presenter Sue McDougall, who shared tips for improving soil to promote plant growth.
Sue showed participants how adding organic matter to the soil improves soil structure and supports soil biology. Sue emphasised the importance of composting manures before applying them to the garden, to benefit plants and prevent nutrients reaching local waterways.
“Composted manures are partially decomposed, therefore they quickly become part of the soil and plants can access their nutrients over time,” she said.
“Fresh manures can bring unwanted weeds and pests to your garden.
“They are also a major source of nutrients entering waterways from urban gardens.”
Attendees enthusiastically carried out experiments to observe how adding organic matter like composted manure and compost increases moisture retention and reduces leaching. They also mixed up the perfect soil recipe and potted themselves some herbs to take home.
Hula hoops were used to give attendees a visual representation of the Bay OK recommended application rates for different animal manures: cow: 2 kg/m2, chicken: 1 kg/m2, sheep/horse: 2.5 kg/m2. The Bay OK program recommends that composted manures should be used for productive gardens no more than twice per year, and only in spring and early autumn when vegetables and fruit trees are growing and need nutrients to support growth.
Local gardeners Georgina Harrison and Liz Powell attended the workshop and say they now know more about the importance of good soil.
“This workshop taught me how to improve the health and quality of my sandy soil and increase its water retention by incorporating organic matter such as compost,” said Georgina.
“The quality of the soil is most important to trapping nutrients where plants can use them,” said Liz.
“Soil can be improved by adding clay, compost and soil wetter.”
This event was generously supported by Vasse Estate and Bunnings Warehouse Busselton, who donated composted manures, clay and soil wetter products. It was also supported by the South West Catchments Council, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program; and is part of Royalties for Region’s Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways programs.
More workshops will be held later this year to promote the key messages of our Bay OK campaign, Garden Guardians of the Bay, which asks gardeners to add clay to their sandy soil, apply soil wetter, use a coarse chunky mulch and choose native plants for their garden.