Over the weekend Anna and I headed down to Anna’s parent’s farm (below) to organise a birthday surprise for Anna’s mum. We decided to plant 100 agapanthus plants to make a border around two sides of the house yard while she went to Sydney to see Simon and Garfunkle. In case you’re wondering how you too could surprise your mum (or mother in law) I thought I’d provide a garden recipe so you could see how we did it.
An agapanthus border
You will need
- Lots of agapanthus bulbs (Anna’s Dad bought them from Fernview Nursery who do bulk bulbs for cheap)
- compost/manure/blood and bone for soil improvement (get whatever you can get cheap/free)
- cardboard (we recommend hitting up friends who have just moved, skip bins around the back of homewares shops and the Moore College kitchen)
- mulch (again get whatever you can cheap/free. Hit up a farming friend or rake up deciduous leaves)
Preparing the soil. (We began on Saturday afternoon)
We decided it’d be easiest to completely prepare the soil and mulch before we began any planting. As it turns out that was the right decision for us.
1. Tear up the soil. Soil is a polite way of describing what we were planting into. It was dirt but only just. Anna’s Dad hired a soil cultivator from the local hire store and with the help of Anna’s brother Chris, we had the whole border loosened in about 40 mins. We didn’t bother weeding, though you could do that if you don’t have access to a lot of mulch.
2. Add manure. Lots. A few months ago we got under the shearing shead and managed to shovel out (lit.) tonnes of the stuff. We then shovelled it around the border and used the cultivator again to dig it into the soil.
(and there was evening and morning – the first day)
3. Add more manure. I know I sound like Peter Cundall at this point but we added heaps of it and in time it’ll help build soil structure and add limus.
4. Cardboard the whole thing. We covered the whole thing in cardboard as experience tells us that weeds break through mulch really quickly if you don’t add in a barrier so we used box cardboard. After laying it all we watered thoroughly (and God watered it a bit too).
5. Mulching. We have a free and abundant supply of sawdust on the farm so we used that. Sawdust is a good mulch, though it doesn’t add anything to soil as it breaks down and actually draws nutrients out of the soil for decomposition. But as long as you water it every now and again with a seaweed solution everything is replaced. Because we were on a farm we had some… ermm… help… putting the mulch on.
6. Give everything a big water and go inside for dinner.
(and thus preparation was finished, and we saw it was good. And there was evening and morning – the second day)
Planting. We began planting on Sunday morning. Once we got a system it actually didn’t take that long.
1. Plan out where you want the plants. We zig-zag spaced our bulbs with roughly 1m gap between plants in the same row (if that makes sense).
2. Dig the holes. I had this great little tool which was kind of like a can with a sharp end and a handle at the top. I could push through the thick mulch and the cardboard pretty easily because it was wet. I pushed the mulch away from the hole leaving a kind of funnel shape.
3. Plant the bulbs. Anna then worked behind me planting the bulbs, adding extra soil into the holes and pressing them down firmly. With that we were finished and just in time for Anna’s mum to get back and see the fruits of our labour.
Mass planting is heaps of fun. In time that’ll make a really nice green and blue border around the garden.