Anna shared her strategy with her fellow community gardeners at the February garden working bee and BBQ. Here is her step by step process.
Step One: Lay Down Carboard
Anna flattens thick cardboard boxes and lies them across the plot. Clamp it down with heavy watering, over and over so it softens.
Step Two: Green Matter
Next Anna puts down some cut up green plants. The woody, tall rosemary bush taking up a large chunk of Plot 19 was cut up and then laid on top of the cardboard.
Step Three: Cow Manure
Anna bought eight bags of cow manure and spread it out roughly across the plot. “Cow manure cannot burn your plants.”
Step Four: WhoFlungDung
On top Anna added three big bales of Neutrog’s whoflungdung that is organically certified, retains water, is biologically active and introduces a wide range diversity of good bacteria to the soil from the inoculated chicken manure
Step Five: Grow Cover Crops
Anna likes lupin seed for green manure. She puts them in and grows a green crop before planting vegetables and other crops. She leaves it to break down in the soil providing nutrients and other benefits.
Step Six: Lucerne Hay
Anna likes Lucerne Hay because it fixes the nitrogen. She spreads a good two inches on top of the manures, green crop and cardboard. The mulch retains the moisture and cools the soil.
Step Seven: More Cardboard
Then Anna spreads another lot of cardboard which she says, thickly spread, “will kill just about any weed trying to get through.” As it cuts out the light.
Step Eight: More Cow Manure and Compost
Anna recommends at least three to four inches of organic matter that is rich in nutrients that will drip feed to your plants and increase the pH of acidic sandy soils.
Step Nine: More Mulch
Anna says ideally the plots need half a metre of organic matter
Step Ten: Bentonite
Anna likes to add some Richgro Betonite Natural Sand to Soil. It is a blend of minerals including bentonite clay, which has the capacity to hold water and nutrients.
Step Eleven: Coir
Anna also likes coir peat block and Martins Premium Planting Compost. She waters them to make them spongey.
Anna does not approve of wetting agents and slow release foods as they are pellets coated in plastic or resin. “I don’t want plastic in the garden.”
Step Twelve: Biochar
Anna is a big fan of biochar which she describes as an enabler and preserver of soil health. She says it is like a housing complex for microbes. Biochar’s tubular structure, draws in water and nutrients through its capillary action. But biochar is expensive, says Anna, but you don’t need much. A 3.5 litre Biochar container with zeolite costs $22 from Bunnings.
Step Thirteen: Drop In the Seedlings
Anna likes to germinate seeds at home and bring them to the garden when they are several inches high.
Step Fourteen: Water Deeply.
It is important to water our plots deeply, not every day, says Anna. “Watering lightly on sand is a complete waste of resources.”
Deep watering also encourages plants to extend their roots, so they are strong, she says. Such layering gives sand a structure and makes it friable, says Anna.
“I think about what my plants would like. I would like it to be nutritious, so it is really good for my health. We can grow fabulous vegetables, but we have to do lots.”