Hosepipe ban: Tips on How to save water when growing your own

We’re currently in the midst of a heatwave and the lack of rain and increase in temperatures has seen river, groundwater and reservoir levels drop at an alarming rate. As a result, hosepipe bans have been springing up in various parts of the UK.

I’ve done some reading online and chatted to some of the chaps at the allotment to see what they do to help combat water shortages and hosepipe bans. I hope you find the below useful.

10 ways to save water when growing your own

Collecting as much rainwater as possible
Invest in a couple of water butts or a disused water tank to store your water. Be sure to keep a lid on it so that water doesn’t escape through evaporation. Also think about how you’re going to collect the rainwater, whether it’s via the roof of a shed or an adjacent board channelling rainfall into the the tank or water butt.

Homemade bottle feeders
This wine bottle hack is a great way to keep your plants watered during dry spells, and is dead easy to implement. Get a bottle of wine that has a screw top, simply drink all of the wine and make a small hole in the lid of wine. Fill with water and bury the bottle – lid down, to create a drip feeder. I guess it doesn’t have to be wine – any decent sized bottle with a screw top will do. Wine is more fun though 🙂 !

Mulching
You can stay ahead if you keep the soil moist between watering. Mulch is a layer of material from your compost bin, or even grass cuttings applied to the top of the bed.  The mulch will act as a sponge to store moisture and reduce the amount of water leaving the ground during the hot weather. I’ve even seen old carpet being used to keep the ground moist.

Burying newspaper into your bedding
This is similar to the mulching idea above, but I found this article, which explains that burying newspaper in with your bedding is a safe way of storing water within your beds, and closer to the roots. Burying newspaper into the ground also keeps the weeds down too.

Absorbent gels
The video below shows you how to dissect a nappy – but you can just as easily buy absorbent gels for your garden from any reputable garden center.  Absorbent gels are great for containers and raised beds. They’re also great if you’re away from your allotment for long periods of time and you’re relying on water butts and wine bottle feeders being full.

Self-watering pots
Last year I saw that Self-watering pots were all the rage and I soon learnt that these are a great way to preserve water in one space. Self watering planters store water and when the soil dries out it will automatically draw up more water until it is full – the technology is a simple one.

Establishing a watering routine
Because watering will effectively take longer using a watering can, it’s best to build up or establish a routine that involves watering little and often. An extra trip to the allotment during the week could be the difference between a plant surviving or being subject to the elements. I’d also invest in another watering can so you can carry more water in one go. Be sure to also focus your watering on the roots of the plants to avoid any wasted run off.

Keep beds weeded
Weeds will take up water that should otherwise go to the plants that need it. By keeping on top of the weeds, you’re effectively getting rid of the competition. This is another reason why weeding is so important, so much like the watering – it’s best to keep on top of the weeding little and often to avoid labour intensive bouts.

Drought resistant varieties 
Hosepipe bans seem to creep up on us and are announced at the last minute, so if you suspect like I have, that this year might involve a hosepipe ban – give extra thought to the varieties of fruit and vegetables that you would like to grow. There are varieties of plants out there that fair well in hot, dry weather – perfect for a hosepipe ban.

Capillary Matting
For indoor growing, capillary matting is a wise investment. Capillary Matting will transport water quickly and evenly over a level surface. This means that large number of plants can be watered easily and at the same time. Capillary matting will also help to create humidity in your greenhouse, which will assist with keeping the mat moist and your plants watered.

Hosepipe bans are a necessary evil unfortunately and they come around every so often – my last piece of advice is to keep calm and carry on. What are your water saving tips? I’d love to know!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

I’ve seen this year in the press that the RHS Chelsea Flower has not failed to impress and I wish I was able to go. My dear old Mum was lucky enough to visit though and she’s kindly sent me some images – but believe me, if you can go I would strongly advise that you do. As beautiful as these images are, nothing can make up for seeing the real thing!

Enjoy!

 

Allotment alternatives in the UK

About a month ago I published an article offering advice on how to get an allotment and how to deal with high waiting lists, since then I’ve come across other schemes and alternatives to an allotment, which are helping people get access to green space where they can start growing their own fruit and vegetables.

I’d thought I’d share information on these schemes to see if they would be any use to you.

Lend and tend – www.lendandtend.com

If you don’t have time to look after your garden, no doubt someone on your street would love to look after it for you.  This video explains more about the scheme and why it would be useful.

 

Grow your own plots, Wyevale Garden Centres – www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/services/grow-your-own-plots

Wyevale Garden Centres are renting out plots near participating stores.  They have an application on the link above and useful advice on getting started.

Grow your Own Plots - Wyevale Garden Centres
Grow your Own Plots – Wyevale Garden Centres

Spring has sprung!

It’s always good to just sit back and observe. Spring is such a great time of year, everything is fresh and new and with the days getting longer you just find yourself becoming more and more enthusiastic about growing your own.

The daffodils and bulbs that poke through also make for a pleasant and welcome change in scenery. It’s also nice to see the buds and shoots of plants that you thought had passed away during the winter.

I also signed up to Instagram a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been having a bit of fun with the filters. (I know – I’m a little bit behind on this Instamullarky!)

Take a look at these spring themed photos, sit back, scroll and enjoy!

The meaning of every rose colour

The mystery and romance surrounding the rose have captivated man since time began. As a result, the rose can relate to a range of emotions including love, passion, beauty, war and even politics.

In the run up to Valentines Day, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a range of different roses and colours that petrol stations and supermarkets have to offer, but each colour and tint means something different.

I’ve tried to do some research on what different colour roses could mean or what they interpret when they’re given as a gift. During my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the rose, as a plant, and its colours, all have different meanings based on opinion – rather than fact.

In light of that, I’m going to do the honourable thing and pass the buck as I’ve found that the best run down of coloured rose meanings comes from Good House Keeping magazine.

Check out this article, A Rose isn’t just a Rose to make sure that you get every occasion right.

I particularly like this run down by Lauren Piro because the examples she uses relate to all aspect of everyday life, and shows how the beauty of the rose can apply on not only valentines day but also if you’re seeing a friend or other special occasions.

Good luck with your future choices when picking out that ever important bouquet!

An Allotment..How to get one

I bet you’re wondering “how do I get an allotment?” Well, seeing as it’s a new year and all that – I can imagine that many of you will be toying with the idea of starting something new.

Getting hold of a plot these days is no mean feet due to the increasing waiting lists and the reducing of green space across the country.

Reasons to get digging

  • Access to green space
  • Good social environment and a place to get to know your local community
  • Exercise and access to fresh fruit and veg
  • Learning something new and discovering what you like and what you don’t like
  • Encouraging wildlife and helping the environment
  • An allotment is a good excuse and a good place to recycle

Where to get an allotment

  1. Your local authority: The Government has a search facility for both the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland – whereby you just pop your postcode in and it will lead you to your local authority website and specifically the hoops you have to go through to get somewhere to grown your own.
  2. Private landlords and organisations: Find out about the allotment society in your area and you may be able to find out if there are any plots that are available.  If the landlord or organisation is part of the National Allotment Society (NAS) – they can advertise plot vacancies here.
  3. People power: If you find that your area is lacking in allotment ground – try and seek out more than five people who would also like to grow their own.  Form a plan submit a formal letter to the local authority – both collectively and individually. It’s recommended that you send this via recorded delivery.  All local authorities have a mandatory obligation to provide an allotment provision under Section 23 of the 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act.  If you find that the local authority is dragging their feet, apply pressure and send more letters.

How to get an allotment

 

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016

Hello there and here’s to wishing you a happy new year and hoping 2016 is a healthy and fruitful year for you.

I have to admit, this entire winter season has come as a surprise due to the unusually high temperatures, lack of frost, torrential downfall and of course… storm Frank.

This unseasonably warm weather has caused daffodils to poke their tips through the ground and buds to bloom.  Temperatures in London this past December reached 16C – which, according to the MET office was the average temperature of June 2015.  So, if you’re wondering why you’ve gone down with a terrible cold or bug, don’t be too surprised as germs and viruses have been allowed to flourish and spread.

2016 looks like it’s going to be just as hot with temperatures and conditions shifting into, what’s expected to be the biggest El Nino event on record.  Typically an El Nino event lasts from between nine months to two years.  However, this El Nino event is expected to last a staggering four years.

In September 2015, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, Professor Stephen Belcher said: “We know natural patterns contribute to global temperature in any given year, but the very warm temperatures so far this year indicate the continued impact of increasing greenhouse gases. With the potential that next year could be similarly warm, it’s clear that our climate continues to change.”   

It goes without saying that the environment is probably one of the most important things, we as human beings, need to both care about and not take for granted.  Maintaining and increasing the amount of green spaces that are available, recycling, encouraging wildlife and reducing the carbon footprint is definitely going to be amongst my new years resolutions.

These warm temperatures also mean that I need to pull my finger out and get cracking with sowing seeds, planting bulbs and gearing up for the seasons ahead – all be it, slightly early, as usually at this time of year I’d be kicking back waiting for the ice to thaw.

Roll on 2016 and good luck!