As usual the calendar tells us Spring arrives in the first week of September and many gardeners or those wishing to establish trees on rural properties believe for best results they plant as soon as Spring has arrived.
For nearly four decades I have been advising clients that if they want the very best survival and growth rates when planting in the highlands, it is always best to wait until the danger of heavy frosts has passed and the soil has warmed up. In some areas this does occur in early September, however, these conditions begin mid October and continue through to the end of December on sites with heavy soils that are subjected to late frosts. As usual there are always exceptions to this rule with factors such as soil type and air drainage, along with rainfall patterns and existing vegetation, that will allow for other planting times to be undertaken.
Early spring in the highlands is traditionally dry with our best spring rains normally received late October and November.
The Bureau Of Meteorology has forecast that the October to December period is likely to be drier than average for southern and eastern NSW. Increased levels of risk from heatwaves and bushfires will also be present.
These conditions should not deter those who want to establish gardens, windbreaks, ecological landscapes etc. this season. Droughts have never hindered Wariapendi’s planting activities over the last 4 decades and I can see no reason that this extended dry period should be any different to previous droughts. The golden rules to successful planting during droughts is to :
- Choose your species according to your site’s conditions and limitations.
- Plant small healthy plants into well prepared soil.
- Ensure your plants are protected from rabbits and environmental extremes. Use of tree guards is highly recommended in exposed areas.
- Do not allow exotic grasses or weeds compete for moisture in the soil. Keep newly planted trees weed free for a minimum radius of 60cm around each plant.
In fact it has been my experience that it is easier to establish trees and shrubs during droughts compared to above average rainfall seasons as there is little weed competition. They may not grow as quickly, but they can certainly put on spectacular growth spurts once decent rain is received. This is due to having well-established root systems and increased carbohydrate stores.