Aside from the football the conversation of the hour seems to be the hot summer that we’re having, and among my gardening friends, how dry the soil is. I too am finding the soil very dry, but I can’t help remembering that this time last year I was feeling much the same way and was anxiously putting in a drip hose as I was going away for three weeks and didn’t want to ask my poor neighbour to spend a couple of hours watering my veg plot every few days. It really wasn’t that different (although in mid-July the rains cam and didn’t seem to stop until May this year!)
It has got me thinking, especially as I am very conscious of how much water I’m using this year which doesn’t feel “right”, and I’m keen to be better prepared for any dry spells next year. This involves a bit of forward planning, so I’ll be getting to work as soon as the first days of autumn arrive, doing the following:
- Installing several water butts. I keep meaning to do this but haven’t got around to it yet. It’s now a number one priority!
- Making leaf mould. I did make some last year, but by the time it all rots down there isn’t actually that much of it, so this year I’m going BIG! I can then use it as an effective mulch during the summer I hope.
- Sticking with no dig. I went no-dig this spring, and whilst I have been having a mixed experience of it (it hasn’t been as effective as I’d hoped, but I think it’s a matter of giving it a bit of time to take effect) I do think that on the beds where I have managed to do it right I have not needed to water as thoroughly as other beds.
- Mulching in autumn AND spring. This is part of the no-dig approach, but I missed the autumn mulching last year. I’m going to definitely give it a go for the next season so will be adding a good layer of mulch in autumn, and then again in spring I think. The theory is, that then the water is retained deeper in the soil, so acts as reserves for plant roots for when we have hot spells.
- Compost more! I have several compost heaps on the go, but I’m not very attentive to them, and having had my garden for 2 and a half years, I have yet to use any of my own homemade compost. I do think this will be really beneficial as I’ll be able to use it to mulch. Again, it’s something that I need to start sooner rather than later.