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Water Efficient Gardening

Gardening with Indigenous Plants - plants that have had thousands of years to adapt the climatic conditions of the Sydney Basin

Wattle in bloom in May- photo marghanita Using the right plant in the right place, is the secret of a successful garden. Australian Plants have evolved over time to survive in the naturally occurring climate and soils of particular locations. Australian birds, and animals, including humans, have also adapted to feed on these plants. It is worth observing the feeding habit of the native Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), which enjoys the nectar of grevillea and the introduced Common or Indian myna (Acridotheres tristis) - which eats local worms and insects - but not the nectar of native flowers. Likewise for native bees and introduced bees.

Australia has a wide range of soil and climatic conditions - sandy, clay, long dry spells, wet, "drought", heat, cold. Yet there are plants that have evolved over time to survive these conditions and support animal (including humans).

Gardening with nature can be fun and challenging. You need to understand your site and know your plants. But the learning and getting of wisdom is what engages gardeners.

Orchid - photo marghanita The are a myriad of plants that are likely to have grown in Annandale and whose close relatives are now growing again successfully in home gardens and public spaces through the efforts of the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery.

Since 1988, Sydney has had extended wet and dry periods and the local vegetation seems to be comfortable with this. Selecting and placing plants where they rely entirely on natural rainfall in a garden is a rewarding challenge.

Native Birds and Insects have adapted to eat and pollinate native plants. The silvereye shown, is eating insects in the canopy of a mellaluca. The wattle, is in bloom in May and the orchid survives on the moisture in the air.

Over time plants suited to the climatic conditions of sydney - prolonged wet and prolonged dry periods - can adjust their water requirements a bit like hibernating in a cold dark winter. For example, if you water these plants during a dry period - you could effectively drown them.

Extending a Washing Machine out pipe to recycle the water on the garden - photo marghanitaThey also have deep roots, which take a time to establish. So, buy tube stock, pick your time to plant them and be patient. They will reward you.

Local Provenance Plants

Composting and Mulching

Composting helps reduce landfill and provides important nutrients to the garden.

Increasing organic matter in the soil decreases the chances of it becoming aqua-phobic.

Reusing Light Grey Water

Silvereye - photo marghanita

Reusing clothes washing machine water can be a useful source of water for growing roses and plants which need lots of water all the time. However, it is important to check the components in the detergents used. (Authors note: I have been using Biozet and reusing the washing machine water on pot plants, roses and passionfruit, through the last few years of drought in Sydney. - Marghanita da Cruz, 2006).

However, care is still needed, not to overwater. Use of the grey water on lawn, in particular, where there was greater evaporation, seemed to increase the salinity and made the soil aquaphobic. Combination of grey water, green waste/compost and mulch seemed more satisfactory and yielded a good crop of passionfruit and olives.

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