Next year I want to be better prepared for the heat

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.