Community & Environment

Compost crops keep traffic islands healthy

Some of Hamilton’s major roundabouts are carpeted in green when they would normally be blooming with multi-coloured spring flowers, but there’s an upside to this COVID-19 disruption.

City roundabout islands are replanted twice a year with flower seedlings grown and planted by the Hamilton City Council Parks and Recreation team.

That work had to go on hold in March with only the Tristram St/Cobham Dr roundabout planted before the country went into COVID-19 lockdown. The remaining seedlings continued to grow in the Council nursery and were unusable after the lockdown.

Parks Landscapes Team Leader Jo Berwick says the team decided to plant nutrient-dense mustard seed at five major roundabouts rather than leave the beds empty.

“Mustard seed is a green crop and is great for the soil. It allows soil aeration, controls weeds and creates the perfect conditions for worms to thrive,” she says.

When the Parks and Recreation team replants the roundabouts again in October, they will dig the mustard seed into the soil and plant new flower seedlings over the top.

As the mustard seed breaks down, it will feed the soil and improve its structure, so Ms Berwick says great things are expected from this summer’s blooms.

Mustard seed was planted at roundabouts at Te Rapa, Flagstaff, Rototuna, Davies Corner and Five Crossroads. As the crop matures, it will change from a green fuzz to a carpet of bright yellow flowers. The Nawton Rd roundabout was left bare to give the soil a complete rest.

The Parks and Recreation team recommends home gardeners sow green crops like lupin and mustard seed over winter to protect the soil. When dug into the bed the crops create humus, an important component of soil that keeps it moist and more drought resistant.

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