The Hot Dry Summer of Twenty Eighteen’
The Hot Dry Summer of Twenty Eighteen’
I remember the last drought in ‘the summer of ‘76’. That is 1976. Do you?
But way back then, just around the corner, I was a petulant, grumpy teenager and had not a thought about the lack of water around and the impact it had on mum’s considerable vegetable and flower garden. I do, however, always remember the joy of podding peas, eating runner beans every night for weeks on end, picking tomatoes and eating handfuls of cherries from our enormous tree which I seem to recall climbing. But mainly, I just enjoyed the sunshine.
Oh, and that uncomfortable feel of the spikey short tufts of brown that passed for green grass, whilst I sat with friends on the school playing field at lunch time, listening to the latest music charts on my precious (sneaked in) transistor radio, tuned in to Radio 1. And no, before you ask, I am more Radio 2 now, with a smattering of Radio 4’s Gardeners Question Time, Just a Minute and Desert Island Discs.
But I digress. Back to today, and I am having all the same dilemmas in my own garden, with concerns on how to keep my various special vegetables, flowers and shrubs alive, let alone thriving, in this rather hot, dry, sunny weather.
With hosepipe bans gradually taking hold throughout the UK and no signs that these conditions will be changing in the near future, here are some Brookside Nursery top tips to help you keep your garden looking good even in a drought along with some top water-saving tips:-
*Firstly, don’t waste water by using a sprinkler on the lawn. It may not look quite as you would like at present, with various shades of faded yellow and brown patches, but it will revive very quickly once we have a decent amount of rain. Set the mower blades higher and mow less frequently. Keep the edges trimmed and sharpen up border edges with a half-moon edging tool. It will give both the borders and the lawn a neater look, even though it is not green.
*Use ‘grey water’ saved from bathing or general washing-up. A non-chemical way of ridding plants from certain aphids is to use a diluted soap solution. You can use this method by directly spraying affected plants. Just ensure it is a weak solution though. There are many detergents that are eco-friendly for use in the bath, washing machine and washing-up.
*Look to the future, and invest in a water butt or two now, whilst the summer sales are on. Place them at relevant areas around the garden where they can be connected to a down-pipe, either the house roof or a shed or greenhouse. It certainly saves a lot of lugging watering cans up and down the garden. The bigger you can get the better for saving all that precious rainwater.
*Save used tea bags and instead of putting them on the compost heap, where they don’t rot down, use them when you redo your baskets for autumn/winter at the base of hanging baskets, small pots and containers. Even winter baskets can dry out and tea bags are moisture retentive, so remember that for next summer too.
*If you didn’t stake summer flowering perennials at the beginning of their growing season, they may well be flopping in this hot weather. Instead of using one stick and tying the plants to that, consider using a few sticks (bamboo) in a circle and tie around the plants. This will allow more movement of air and will look more natural and prevent snapping or damaging of stems.
*Lack of weeds are one of the benefits of a drier summer soil, but still regularly hoe over exposed areas of earth and in between vegetable rows, not too deeply, but enough to uproot any seedling weeds. The sun will soon kill them off.
*Make a note, or take photographs of your garden, particularly plants that are doing well in the hot dry conditions and those that are suffering because of it. The ones doing well, leave alone but consider moving others in the autumn to a more favoured situation where they will be happier.
*If you are planting new shrubs into your garden, dig a bigger than normal hole, sprinkle mycorrhizal granules at the base of the hole to help roots spread and sink in an upturned large plastic drinks bottle (with the lid off and the base cut off. Use moisture retentive compost in and around the new plant. When you water, you can fill the plastic bottle and know that the water is going directly to the roots. It works really well.
Lastly, visit gardens open to the public and see which plants are thriving and ask the gardeners questions. They will be happy to share their knowledge and experience.
Have fun and enjoy your garden!