Now that all the boards are finished it’s time to pretty up the backyard a bit, starting with adding a little bit of greenery.
When I first cleared out the gardens (way before construction of the frame for the deck) I kept all the plants I removed and put them in pots. This turned out to be a great idea as I had a lot of plants available to green up the place without having to buy any! Besides, the ones that survived in pots for a long time turned out to be the most hardy.
One of the plants that I had a lot of was clivias. They are a fairly small plant with large green leaves and pretty orange flowers. They also have berry looking seeds that add to the colour and appearance. You can find out more about them at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clivia
Before planting them I had to get the garden bed ready. As you may have noticed from my previous post, I had a half buried coppers log (treated pine log) to form the border of the pavers. I wanted to freshen this up a little so I removed the log and cast it aside here’s a picture of what it looks like (and where it ended up is a secret…)
Anyway, with that gone I decided to put a spare length of decking board as the border to hold the pavers and to hold the dirt back. You’ll see it in future photos, but here’s a close up of how it worked out. I also had a lot of containers holding dirt and used the dirt to fill in the area a bit.
A word about keeping dirt. Worms are awesome natural ways to add fertilizer and to aerate the soil, making it a fantastic start for replanted plants. To encourage worms going through the soil, I filled old pots with dirt that had various bits of natural detritus (like leaves and roots and sticks). The worms enter through the drainage holes of the pot and move through the soil eating the debris and adding fertilizer. It’s a good idea to put a layer of leaves and sticks on top of the pots to keep the moisture in and to provide extra food for the worms.
Once the bed was bordered and topped up with soil, it was time to plant the clivias. I didn’t have much room (width-wise) and wanted to make it look as full as possible. I therefore opted for a trench-style planting. Basically I dug a trench through the middle of the garden bed and then placed the clivias in the middle of the trench.
To explain the best way to plant clivias, I’ll go through step by step how to remove them from the pots. The best thing about clivias is that if you put one in a pot, it will grow other shoots which then grow into mature plants in the same pot. I ended up having sometimes 5 or 6 clivias in the one pot! So because I had left these in pots for some time, they looked pretty haggard due to leaves and sticks falling from them out of a nearby tree as well as weeds taking root in the pot.
The first step was to remove all of the unwanted stuff in the pot to clean it up a bit. The leaves and weeds can be kept aside and either used in compost or use it to make a nice leaf litter for a mulch.
Much better! Now the next step is to remove it from the pot. For this step you can’t be gentle, you’ve just got to shake the pot until the whole thing falls out. Ideally, shake it in a horizontal way so the plant comes out without damaging the leaves too much. If it’s hard to come out, tap the bottom of the pot to loosen it away from the pot.
You can see that the plants were becoming quite root bound – that is filling the pot with roots instead of dirt. The best thing you can do to prepare for replanting it to remove a lot of the roots. They will grow back quickly, though so don’t worry too much. My theory is that plants distribute energy in growth equally to their leaves and roots. If the roots are damaged or if there isn’t enough water, the plant concentrates on the roots more than the leaves. When you replant, you want the clivia to concentrate on building new roots to become more solid in the ground. Therefore, if you get rid of some of the roots, the plant will put all it’s energy into making itself more solid in it’s new environment. To do this, just grab a shovel and chop at it. Keep the excess roots and dirt and put them in a pot to let the worms do their magic. They love clivia roots, by the way.
Although this looks butchered, the root ball size here is more than enough to start the planting. I guess the root ball itself is about the size of your fist. If there are multiple plants in the one pot, just get the blade of the shovel in there and separate them at the roots. Then cut each one back to a similar sized root ball and plant them as individual plants. You can then put them straight into the trench we dug earlier and then cover them with dirt.
Just continue doing this until the trench if filled. As I said earlier, I planted them quite close together to give it a bushy look. If you plant them further apart, they will grow over time to fill up the bed. Don’t forget that once you have put them all in to give them a really good water and then stand back and admire your handy work. You can sprinkle some slow release fertilizer through the bed if you wish (like Osmocote) but in my case, the worms helped me with that for free!
All that’s left now is to clean up and move onto the next section of the garden (to the left in this picture), but that’s another blog post. 🙂