Date: 1 July 2008
Originally published in: Harrod Horticultural website (UK)
Written by: Kim Wilde
With drought summers increasingly predicted due to global warming, accompanied by hose pipe bans in many areas, it certainly makes sense to wise up to potential water shortages in your garden.
Collecting rain water makes good sense, and I have the guttering diverted to collect it into an elegant Oak Barrel, that’s both functional and stylish.
Rainwater is infinitely better for plants than tap water which often has fluorides and chlorine additives which are no good for plants. Plants are best watered at their roots as so much is wasted by evaporation when sprinklers and hoses are used. Vegetables, annuals, roof gardens and newly planted areas benefit greatly from an effective irrigation system to help plants keep healthy and thriving, and a soaker hose kit is an ideal way to achieve this.
Water that seeps rather being squirted will slowly soak into the soil, which will stop it from running off the soil or compacting it, and can be attached to a timer to water at the optimum time early in the morning or late into the afternoon. I grow my tomatoes in grow-bags, and wouldn’t be without my Growpot Ring Culture System.
Like so many useful things, the genius is in the simplicity. Attach by rotating the serrated edge into the grow-bag and not only does the outer ring quickly fill with water slowly seeping into the grow bag directly to the roots, but the extra soil depth gives the tomatoes a more spacious root run which helps them hold up better in dry weather. Here’s a tip though, don’t over water as this not only wastes precious water but prevents the roots from getting air. If your tomatoes are wilting on a sunny afternoon, that is perfectly normal as they’ll perk up over-night, but if they’re wilted in the morning. GET WATERING!
Also the Growbag Watering Pots are a quick and efficient way of getting just the right amount of water into your growbag. The little reservoirs sit below the polythene on the surface of the compost and evenly distribute water throughout the compost. Containers are always prone to drying out, especially if you’re going away for a short spell.
The Aquasolo Ceramic Watering Cone is an excellent way to keep your container from drying out as the ceramic cone gently lets water seep out at a 50cl per day flow rate. The cone is simply screwed into a (0.5-5L) water bottle, brilliantly simple, and particularly helpful in keeping vegetable plants from drying out. Remember also to use a mulch of at least 2cm on the surface of the soil to help retain moisture in containers, gravel, bark or even your old wine corks (a favourite in our house!) will help retain moisture in the soil whilst also inhibiting weeds. Of course one of the most effective ways of reducing your water needs in the garden is to choose drought resistant plants such as rosemary, lavender, geranium and the beautiful ornamental grass Stipa Gigantea. Also, don’t forget to dig in some good home compost and organic matter into your soil in the spring which will help hold moisture in the soil throughout the summer.