We’re right in the middle of a summer heatwave here in the UK, which has meant soaring temperatures of at least 85 degrees on a daily basis, & no rain for weeks.
The hot weather, which I love, has changed the way we do things. Food is lighter, & most of our meals are eaten out in the garden, which feels very holiday-like.
But the garden has become demanding about water, it wants more & this takes extra time, but there is a way of using just the optimum amount of water & no more.
Good soil is key:
Having a good, chunky soil structure by adding plenty of soil improver is the thing. Moisture stays in light, sandy soil for as long as possible, rather than draining quickly away. It’s also perfect for heavy, clay soil, breaking up the sticky structure, & allowing water to drain through.
Resulting in a higher yield of vegetables & flowers & healthier plants that are less prone to disease.
Soil improver comes from a few sources:
- home-made compost
- bags from the garden centre
- delivered loose in bulk from a garden supply company
Its clear that my soil is good in parts, as a result of home-made compost & bought-in bags of soil improver from the local garden centre. But there are areas of soil that are thin, & the plants growing in it reflect the condition of this poor quality, they’re next to be targeted.
Mulch is best
Simply add soil improver over damp soil, no need to dig it in, which actually breaks up the delicate ecology of the soil. The thicker the layer the better, 4in/10cm would be ideal, but thats a big volume, so do what you can.
Not all plants are equal, these are top of the list:
- young plants
- plants planted or transplanted this year
- soft leaved plants
- contents of the greenhouse
- those less in need are the well- established plants, they have a good root system that sustains them for longer Mediterranean plants like Lavender & Rosemary, thrive on thin, dry soil, so don’t need mulch unless they’re newly planted
A few other solutions:
Move plants in pots out of the sun.
Put saucers under plant pots to catch the water & give the plant more time to soak it up.
Water plants in the morning as early as you can, or in the early evening, though I don’t do this because of the slug situation, the sad story is in the previous post.
In the future consider what time of year to plant. Trees & shrubs are better planted in the autumn, giving them time to extend their root system & settle in.
Perennials & grasses are better planted in early Spring, so their small structure of roots doesn’t have to struggle through a cold, wet winter.
Ultimately a Sprinkler isn’t a good method of watering a garden. It sprays water around indiscriminately, wasting much of it soaking leaves instead of the soil.
Spend your money on mulch/soil improver that will stand the course of time & be so much better for your plants. Gardening is about being in it for the long-term, there aren’t many garden quick fixes that make a real difference.
Once you’ve sourced good supplies of soil improver & the made a habit of regular mulching, it’s all pretty simple & watering will be as minimal as possible, it’s what sustainable gardening is all about.
How do you manage your garden in this hot weather?
all photos: Jill Anderson.