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Drought!

It seems quite surreal hearing about them declaring a drought in parts of the country. Scotland has had more rain than normal and here in the west, we’re not suffering a lack at all. If anything the opposite. In fact, as I write, it’s raining and the water butts are overflowing. It’s blinking cold as well for early June!

I’m convinced we’re suffering from climate change. We’ve always had unusual weather, even Victorian gardeners complained about poor summers, cold springs and lack of rain. The thing is we keep getting extremes. The coldest winter for 100 years, the wettest summer (a few years back) the driest spring on record, etc.

If it was simply a matter that we are getting warmer and drier, or wetter, we could cope but this uncertainty and extreme makes things very tricky. I said some years ago that coping with climate change was one of the biggest problems gardeners and growers would have to cope with. There’s a short article here about it: Coping with Climate Change

For those in the drought stricken east, there’s an article I wrote when we had the hosepipe bans on coping with dry and drought. Might be worth you reading: Growing Vegetables when there is a Hosepipe Ban as it covers some of the techniques for growing with a water shortage.

Yet More Digging

It didn’t seem like a huge task when I started. Val wants a decorative garden area with a herb garden next to the house. It’s overgrown with grass, so a bit of a job to dig over but shouldn’t take more than a couple of days.

I enjoy digging over, usually. It’s physically tiring but mentally relaxing. Just in with the spade, turn over and onto the next bit. I get a wonderful night’s sleep after a session. The brain’s switched off and the body drags you into the bed. It’s so satisfying as well, looking down the plot and seeing the results of your labours.

What I hadn’t realised was that this patch must have been a sort of rubbish dump. It’s not just stones and rocks, there’s pieces of roofing slate, pottery and broken glass; and they’re a nightmare. Finding a place where you can actually get the spade into the soil is a problem and then it’s almost excavation rather than digging. I’m filling the wheelbarrow with stones etc. every 3 square yards!

After a couple more hours I’d had enough and went over to the vegetable area. I may be misinformed, but I was told this area was covered by glaciers at one time and they left all the stones and rocks behind when they retreated.

When you look around an area with lots of dry stone walls, you don’t grasp just how much work was involved building them and clearing the fields. It isn’t so much that they want the walls, hedges and fences are far easier to grow or build, it’s clearing the ground. Each rock has been dug and levered out, then carted over to the wall and placed. Some of the rocks are huge, they must have taken four strong men at least to lift them.

Anyway – see next entry on setting up raised beds for the rest of Saturday.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
9 comments on “Drought!
  1. Jen says:

    Scotland may have had more rain than usual but until the last few days the soil was parched. The wind has been terrible, totally unable to plant out any climbing beans or courgettes.
    Really explains the benefits of walled gardens!

    Hopefully now, with the rain and maybe some sun things will take off a little.

    The work involved building the dry stone dykes across the peak district, Yorkshire etc is just humbling to think about.

  2. jimmy coyle says:

    Scotland has had a lot of rain and night temperatures that have been as low as 0 C. Inside the unheated glass house it has regularily been down to 2 C. Many veg just aren’t moving at all with my French Beans looking as if they might just give up the ghost completely. Who said Allotment life was easy?

  3. Jeremy Edwards says:

    In Birmingham we’ve had lots of dry weather until yesterday. Watering the potato bed has resulted in the water running off rather than soaking in. Our runner beans came on well in the greenhouse (too well) and then were thrashed by strong winds when planted out. They’re leggy and we have lost some. I took the opportunity to plant a seed at the bottom of each cane as a backup and a possible late crop. I’m thinking about sinking cut up bottles or bits of pipe in my potato bed for next year to get water into the ground.

  4. John says:

    If your spuds are earthed up you could try flooding the trench inbetween the rows. I’ve lost so many runners to frost that I always have back-ups sowed a week or two after the first batch.

  5. Jeremy Edwards says:

    Thanks John, most of the water has run into the trenches when watering the potato bed but since our plot is sloping a lot seems to run away.

    • JJ says:

      @Jeremy Edwards:
      Take a hoe to your trenches and build small dams if you will by digging in an inch and dragging it to make a little wall. Do this every foot along the ditch and then water. It allows the water to settle and sink in and is very quick to undo when then pan is broken by moisture seeping in. The dams don’t need to be huge as its only to slow the movement of water long enough for it to seep in. Once the water seeps in it will take to more water quite readily. 🙂

      • Jeremy Edwards says:

        Thanks very much, I’ll try that.

        First earlies look quite good as I’ve had a quick peek so I’m not too worried at this stage and we’ve had a fair bit of rain since the weekend.

  6. Jen says:

    I have used the cut bottles to great advantage for a few years, I have been collecting larger bottles to try as well.

    My son’s Dills Atlantic Pumpkin seedling is finally out (I may regret this), protected by two large pots with the bottoms cut out and the sides cut so they can be easily removed. They have been planted in a pit in the centre of a mound and that has been earthed up. Finally, just in case they have an upturned wheelbarrow as additional temporary wind protection, just until they get going.

    Slightly over the top maybe.

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