As I write this the garden is looking parched with the long run of dry sunny days stretching into weeks we may be enjoying the summer sun but the plants most certainly are not. Vegetable plants in particular suffer at the mercy of the heat; they need water to swell the pods, tubers and fruit that we enjoy so much.
There are several ways to help save water and also reduce the need for extra watering when hose pipe bans seem likely.
Most people keep a water butt if don’t already it may be time to invest in one although you will have to wait for it to fill up which may take some months. If you have a large garden two or more butts can be joined together.
Grey water recycling is the re-use of water that has been used for the washing up, from the washing machine or after a bath. As long as no strong detergents are used this water can be taken to your thirsty plants by bucket or siphon. Larger water harvesting systems are available and if you feel like going even greener why not try reed bed water recycling systems.
Water is lost from plants and soil by evaporation so you can reduce the need for watering by using mulch around your flower beds.
Common mulch’s include organic mulch’s such as leaf mould, bark chippings, mushroom compost and your grass clippings. Inorganic mulch’s include pebbles, sand, gravel and recycled glass chippings.
Another way to reduce evaporation is to avoid watering the foliage of plants and water early in the morning or late in the evening.
If possible you can bury a foot of drain pipe close to the base of larger shrubs and plants. Watering into this pipe instead of the soil gets the water straight to the roots.
You could also plant your garden with drought tolerant species garden styles such as the desert garden are very striking and often include lots of architectural plants.
Most drought tolerant plants have features that are easily recognisable, plants with hairy or spiny foliage are good at trapping moisture and small or thin foliage will loose less water through evaporation than large foliage.
Drought tolerant plants include Achillea, Berberis and most grass species.
One last thing to remember when weeding avoid digging the soil over to much as this exposes more moisture to the elements. Carefully pull weeds making sure to remove the entire root or hoe the ground allowing the weeds to bake in the sun although if it does rain they will re-establish so plan ahead.