If you have ever tried growing a fruit tree in Western Australia, you will know that sandy soils can make establishing plants a complex task. Western Australia contains a range of sandy soil types that can each present their own unique challenges, especially in the Geographe Catchment where we are gardening on what is actually a sand dune.
The wettest weekend of the year so far saw two groups of keen gardeners descend on GeoCatch’s Bay OK garden workshops. Held in Dalyellup and Dunsborough, participants learnt how to garden on sandy soils, what products to use to increase productivity and minimise environmental impact, and how to set up home irrigation so that watering efficiently is maximised.
Shannon White from Baileys Fertilisers informed participants about products they can use in their gardens to ensure plants are getting the nutrients and water they need to thrive. Shannon explained that gardeners with sandy soils can employ several measures to improve their soil so that the fertiliser and water applied on their gardens stays where plants can use it instead of running off into the local catchment. “If the sand can be improved, fertiliser run off or movement through the sand by irrigation or rain can be dramatically reduced. Your plants will see an increased benefit.”
Mark Jury and Aron Brown, from Nutrien Water talked about watering efficiency in the garden and improvements that can be made by correctly setting watering times for the warmer months, upgrading reticulation to appropriate irrigation design and matching sprays and sprinklers based on plant requirements. Mark elaborated “there are many ways gardeners can improve their water use efficiency to maintain a healthy garden. If you need assistance with this, find a Waterwise Irrigators Program endorsed installer. These contractors are trained in best practice installation and maintenance of waterwise systems.”
After completing the workshop, local resident Lesley Purvis reported that she had learnt that her garden didn’t need the quantity of manure she was applying and would aim to use less in the future. “I will use a composted manure and dig it in so it becomes part of the soil more rapidly” said Lesley.
Workshop participant Robin Reilly headed home with increased knowledge of reticulation systems and their correct use. Robin said “I’m going home to check my irrigation to make sure it is set up correctly for the drier months. I learnt that it should be run much earlier in the day, even at 3am. This is so plants have access to water as the sun comes up.”
Lisa Massey, GeoCatch’s Bay OK gardens officer, added “there are lots of good products out there, and Bay OK wants you to know what to look for when choosing them. If you improve your sandy soil, you can use fertilisers safely knowing that you have taken steps to protect the water quality in waterways from your gardening actions.”
The Bay OK garden project regularly holds garden workshops for sandy soils to promote garden actions that protect Geographe Bay and the waterways and tributaries that flow into it. Keep a watch in the local media and on geocatch.asn.au for event announcements and more information on Bay OK gardening.
This project is funded by the Australian Government and supported by the South West Catchments Council, and is part of Royalties for Region’s Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways programs. These Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west estuaries.