Here are some top tips for looking after your veg patch when water is scarce…
- Water early in the morning, or at dusk – If you can water at these times, it will give the plants time to take up the water before it evaporates in the sun, so the plants will need watering less frequently overall.
- Watch as you water – when the soil is so dry, the water can often run off the soil and away from the veg roots before it has soaked in. Keep an eye as you’re watering so that you don’t waste water that runs off onto the paths rather than into your veggies.
- Strip leaves – leaves take up a lot of water, and not all leaves on veg plants are necessary. You can strip back tomato plants and squash plants quite heavily once they bear fruit, for example, and pinch out the growing tips of beans, aubergines, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peas, too, so that the water isn’t being pushed into the production of new leaves. Harvest the outer leaves of lettuces and other leafy crops to keep the plants small and to reduce the plants’ need for water, as well as channel the water to more productive places. Remove old yellowing brassica leaves too.
- If the plant isn’t suffering, skip the watering – this is about limiting water use to those plants that need it most. If, say, your spinach isn’t wilting or turning yellow, then it is probably doing okay, so perhaps just water the limp looking lettuces!
- Move pots to shade – this is an easy win if you’re growing in pots and containers that can easily be moved. Pop them in shade (even full shade will be fine for a few days) and you won’t need to water them nearly as often.
- Save cooking water – don’t go pouring water down the drain! Strain the water from pasta/rice/veggies etc once they’re cooked into a big saucepan or stock pot, and once it has cooled you can use it to water your plants.
- Consider harvesting roots as baby veg – when water is very scarce, it may be better to harvest those beetroots and carrots that you were going to leave a couple more weeks.