The rains may be coming but are they any good for the garden? After a considerable time of dry conditions the ground becomes so parched that heavy rain will just wash off the top and disappear down the nearest drain.
So what can we do now to save the garden from suffering in the next drought?
1. The lawn. (If that is what we call the dry bit of turf we have now!)
Believe it or not the lawn should still be cut in dry weather. Raise the height of the cutting blades so they don’t scalp the grass. This also keeps down any weeds in the lawn which often grow faster than the grass.
You call this a lawn?! (Picture: Andrew You call this a lawn?! (Picture: Andrew Babicz)
Many lawns will have developed cracks or fissures. Use these to your advantage and fill them with a good gritty compost. This will help to retain moisture and add drainage.
2. The shrub border
If we do have a good drop of rain over the next few weeks and the solid soil gets saturated you can add a mulch on the top of the soil to keep the water in and stop it evaporating. Mulches can be compost, bark chippings or even gravel. Add a good two to four inches. If you want to be really clever you could install an automatic watering system but these don’t come cheap!
3. Pots and containers.
These will have to be watered drought or no drought but when planting in containers make sure your container is large enough and leave at least an inch from the top of the pot to the compost so that it can hold the water when watering. Before potting up containers you can add a gel or crystals that turn into a gel that will hold water and release it slowly in dryer conditions. Look out for these crystals in the autumn when garden centres often sell it off cheap. It will keep if kept dry until next year.
Remember to leave plenty of space at the top potted plants (Picture: AndrewRemember to leave plenty of space at the top of potted plants (Picture: Andrew Babicz)
All fruit needs a good and constant supply of water otherwise they will not produce good sized fruit or if they get inconsistent watering fruit will split. You can help again by adding good compost to the soil and a mulch of manure/compost.
5. Grey water
That’s water from the house previously used to wash in. This can be very difficult to collect unless you have some fancy collection mechanism! I have known people use a hose put through the bathroom window to suck out the bath water! Many of us would probably just use washing up water. However, grey water does not keep very long before it turns horrible. Remember that most dishwater soaps are not natural and full of chemicals so do not use grey water in your fruit and vegetables. I use mine on the lawn but it makes very little difference.
(Picture: AndrewWater butts to prepare for the next drought (Picture: Andrew Babicz)
If you wanted to take this further you could invest in water butts and automatic or semi automatic watering systems.
Whatever you do start planning now for that next drought…