Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sheltering the Soil

Bare soil is dying soil. The harsh Australian sun beating down on unprotected soil destroys the microscopic lifeforms, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria,  which are the basis of soil vitality. The onset of climate change and  increasingly frequent extreme temperature events will make the situation worse in the future. We need an adaptive strategy.

Our strategy here is simple. We use inorganic mulches, such as gravel , in "Dry Zone " gardens and in the "Wet Zone" gardens we use organic mulches; for example, the mix of  straw from the chook yard mixed with  rice husks shelters the soil and provides nutrition to the vegetable beds in The Espaliery.   The soil under these mulches remains cool and vibrant, filled with worms even on the hottest of days.

We must also remember that garden design is not just just about functionality , it is also about creating a thing of beauty.  So here at The Drip we are now exploring the design potential  of mulches. The possibility of creating  strong visual contrast with different mulches,  organic and inorganic, is one worthwhile avenue to explore.  Design features can arise out the practical necessities of creating a garden which responds to the challenges posed by climate change.

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