Here in Britain summer usually consists of grey skies and rain with three fine days followed by a thunderstorm. Just occasionally we have a glorious summer, blue skies and blazing sun to rival any Spanish resort.
The downside of a good summer is lack of water for the garden followed usually by a hosepipe ban.
Now let’s get it straight, there is no shortage of water in the UK. There is a shortage of water storage capacity that make coping with exceptional dry years difficult. Not to mention leaks in the distribution system that waste huge amounts of water.
However, whatever I think of the water monopolies, a ban is a ban and a £1,000 fine can be imposed for cheating, so let’s consider the options.
Saving Your Own Water
First of all, saving your own water is a good idea although a couple of small water butts won’t keep a large vegetable plot going for very long. If you have your own collected stored water, you can legally use a hosepipe to deliver it to your plot. You can buy electric submersible water pumps if your butts don’t have enough head to give you pressure.
Efficient Watering with a Soaker Hose
If you don’t have stored water and are faced with keeping things going with a watering can these tips should help.
Coping with Drought and Hosepipe Ban
Mulching the soil with compost will reduce evaporation so reducing the need to water. The way this works is that water is sucked up through small spaces in the soil to the surface. This is known as capillary action. Breaking the connection with a mulch really does help so long as the mulch isn’t compacted onto the surface.
If you can’t mulch, then hoe to break up the surface of the soil. This will again stop that capillary action aiding evaporation.
Don’t water unless you need to. This might seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often people water when there is absolutely no need to. Check by sticking your finger into the soil or scraping off the surface soil with a trowel. Often it’s quite damp a few inches down.
When you do need to water, water thoroughly. Light sprinkling and often will only wet the surface of the soil so the plant roots head up for the water and are very vulnerable to heat and hoeing. Much better to water properly every 3 or 4 days.
It’s easier to carry two full cans than one. You’re more balanced. You can pick up cheap plastic watering cans for a couple of pounds or less in lots of stores.
If your water supply is a long way from the crops, then invest in another couple of cans and you can take your filled cans down to the crop in a wheelbarrow.
And if all else fails – pray for rain!
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