How to resuscitate plants after flooding-advice from Brisbane

Dick Copeman reports...

While out  helping clean up after the flood in West End and other nearby suburbs of Brisbane, I had a number of discussions about what to do to resuscitate gardens that had been flooded.

Ideas that came up included:

  • Hose mud off plant leaves
  • Scrape mud off lawns to expose lawn leaves to sun, then hose mud off top layer of lawn leaves
  • Don't throw mud out with rubbish. It is full of nutrients and can be quite beneficial to the garden.
  • As long as vegetation is poking through the mud, leave the mud layer in place and treat the garden as below to improve drainage and minimise risks from contaminants such as harmful bacteria, pesticides, other chemicals and heavy metals.
  • Drain away any pooled water.
  • Aerate gardens that are waterlogged by poking a fork into the ground and wiggling it back and forth a couple of times. Repeat every 10cms or so.
  • Test pH of mud and if it is acidic, apply lime to gardens
  • Spread sand from sandbags over the mud on gardens and lawns
  • Spread mulch, if available, over the mud (and sand) layer
  • If deep layers of mud have had to be scraped off gardens, lawns and hard surfaces, compost the mud by mixing it with layers of prunings, green waste, lawn clippings, food scraps, etc., in piles of about a cubic metre in size. Cover the pile with black plastic and

    let it sit for three months. Even better, turn the pile regularly and it will compost more quickly.

  • Wear gloves and boots when handling flood mud and wash and shower well when finished
  • Don't harvest leafy greens, and other vegies that are eaten raw, from flood affected gardens, until they have had a week of sun and then a couple of decent rainfalls on them. Even then, wash produce very well.

Remember that most productive farm land is on flood plains because of the rich silt that is deposited there in floods. So make the most of what nature has brought you.

Dick Copeman

Community garden trainer and permaculture eduator, Brisbane

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