Not having enough water can be a difficult challenge to overcome, especially if your pipes are metered or you have seasonal restrictions. We all know the importance water plays in growing crops, so we've made a nice little list to help you try and conserve water on your allotment.
Water is a constant requirement for living plants. It is used to carry mineral nutrients to leaf and stem, to distribute foodstuffs to all parts of the plant and to maintain what might be termed the pressure of growth forces. Excess water is constantly being lost through the plant by transpiration and elsewhere by evaporation. Insufficient water leads to wilting, a loss of growth and eventually the plant’s death, so it is important to supply sufficient water to your crops.
Below are some points to help conserve water usage
- Use a water butt to collect any rainwater, various collection methods can be used to collect the rainwater
- Mulch fruit and other long term crops; a good thick layer of mulch helps to conserve water but it also helps prevent weed growth. Well rotted manure or garden compost, even straw or grass clippings, can be used. From some crops, such as strawberries, it may be appropriate to plant through a layer of black polythene pegged down to the soil. Make sure that the soil is well watered before mulching.
- When cultivating your allotment incorporate plenty of organic matter into the soil as this will help retain moisture in the ground.
- When growing ‘hungry’ crops, such as beans, sweet peas, etc., dig a good deep trench and fill the bottom with any type of organic matter, even old damp newspaper will do before backfilling. This will help to act as a reservoir for these plants.
- Grow crops that do not require excess watering, for instance many herbs such as Sage and Rosemary come from Mediterranean climates and can survive fairly dry conditions.
- If you grow plants in tubs or containers incorporate a water retentive gell into the planting compost. Stand pots, containers and grow bags on trays to catch any water that drains through, this water can then be recycled.
- When you do water, it is better to pick one section of the allotment and water thoroughly to some depth. A thorough soaking at weekly intervals is much better for the plant than a daily sprinkling of water as this will encourage plants to grow deeper and search for their own water. It is best to water early in the morning, particularly in greenhouses, so plants are surface dry at night. This helps to keep diseases down.
- Regular hoeing of cultivated areas not only reduces competition for water from weeds but breaks the soil capillaries and therefore reduces water evaporation from the surface of the soil.
Remember water at the allotments is not free, its part of your yearly rent charge, the more 'WE' use the more 'WE' will have to pay.