What a cold, dry and miserable April it has been. Too cold to sow or plant much outdoors as the soil temperature has been too low. If you are new to gardening or have an allotment for the first time don’t be pulled along by the old myths like planting certain crops on specific days of the year. The climate is changing and you must go with the best conditions to ensure success.
Have a look at this page which gives details of the minimum and optimum soil temperatures for some common veg. Remember this is the soil temperature at the depth the seed is planted and not the surface. If it remains dry, then seeds and transplants will need regular watering. Water in the day and not last thing at night as the ground and plants will stay cold all night.
Now the forecast is giving many hours of heavy rain for Monday 3 May, well it is a bank holiday!
Our garden slopes to one corner and the water goes with the flow. This can flood the sheds just out of shot. For some time I have been meaning to put in guttering to take the water off the paths and down a drain, the paving slabs have and intentional left to right slope. Today was the day when that little project was finished. Hope it works.
There is a drought, no rain for weeks, expect hose pipe bans soon say the water companies. But what about gardeners? What can we do? The answer is to mulch.
The graphic says it all, there should be no bare soil in the garden as it dries out very quickly.
If you make compost then use it as a mulch, it does not need to be perfect so not need to sieve.
The RHS say you can use: wood chippings, processed conifer bark, well rotted manure, straw (for strawberries), spent hops (poisonous if eaten by dogs) and seaweed. Some of these will not be easy to get!
Cardboard could also work but not corrugated as there is concern about the toxicity of the glues used. Do not use old carpet or plastic sheet which can have very toxic breakdown products,
The basic advice is to cover the soil and water sparingly without using a hose pipe in areas where they are banned.
We also need to be aware of the best way to water plant see this page.
My grandfather was a master gardener. He was born in Australia but moved to Lincolnshire. He had a huge vegetable garden on superb light soil which was prone to drying out. For watering, he used a galvanised bucket and an old food tin, like a big baked bean tin although I doubt very much that he knew what they were. The idea was that you walked along the row of veg giving each plant half a tin of water at the roots. There was no mains water available, so his irrigation methods had to be frugal. It was a good lesson to learn. (CS)
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