Friday, 8 May 2020

Water – Use It Wisely

water butt

This long spell of dry sunny weather is good for our spirits, but not so good for our gardens and fields. Tap water takes a lot of energy to pump and clean, so do use rainwater in the garden (and for house plants) whenever possible. If you don’t have a water butt but do have a downspout, perhaps you could get one now ready for when rain does arrive. Get one with a cover to deter mosquitoes (and for safety if children are around). Reasonably clean “grey water” can also be used e.g. from washing vegetables.

Bathing blackbird
A bathing blackbird. Photo: RSPB

In the garden:

If you don’t have a pond, keep a shallow dish of water, such as a large plant saucer, on an open piece of ground away from cat-cover such as shrubs. Brush it out and refill daily, preferably with rainwater. Put it where you can see it from inside and be amused by watching the birds bathing.

Water only plants that need it: newly-planted trees and shrubs, seedling and newly-planted vegetables, and as we get into summer, leafy crops such as lettuce. Water beans and courgettes once they are flowering and fruiting.

Water the soil not the plant. Water thoroughly every 3-4 days, not a dribble each day. Sprinklers waste a lot of water, so use a can or, if needs be, a hose you hold on to.

Self heal and clover
Self heal and clover

Don’t water the lawn – grass is amazingly resilient to drought. Cut it on the longest setting, and only when really essential. Maybe now is the time to keep the mower off some parts, and see what wild flowers come up to flower. Try a “meadow” patch which is left long until late July. Insects will relish some long grass and any wild flowers.

Dr Hilary Ash

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