The different ways to use a wheelie bin in the garden or allotment

Most of us have a garden waste wheelie bin at home, but the rules set out by your local council can be confusing – can you put food waste in there?What about small amounts of soil? Small twigs and branches…?

Continue reading “The different ways to use a wheelie bin in the garden or allotment”

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!

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

Allotment recycling is easy, quick and a great thing to do if you have an allotment. Many household items are thrown out needlessly, when they can be reused over and over again.

1. OXO boxes

You’ve come back from the allotment, you’re chopping up a pepper, tomato or a pumpkin and you’d like to store the seeds somewhere. OXO or stock cube boxes are great for this – just be sure to label them so you know what they are!

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

2. Washing tablet box

These types of boxes are made to last and are watertight, useful for storing anything you want keep dry.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

3. Ice cream container

Tea bags, sugar , powdered milk… Or maybe even a few sandwiches? Enough said.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

3. Plastic milk bottles

Most milk bottles have measurement on the side, a good gauge if you’re particular about diluting quantities of tomato feed or other fertilisers.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

4. Old CD’s

for keeping the birds away – old CD’s tied to a piece of string are a good deterrent for birds looking to have a nibble at some of your produce.

old-cd1-1024x768

5. Cardboard toilet rolls

You can start your leeks indoors in a greenhouse if you so wish and these come to a great use, as once planted in the ground, these will degrade into the soil.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

6. Glass jars

Thinking of making some preserves or pickles? You’ll need these.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

7. Fruit punnets

All being well, you’ll be picking lots of fruit and vegetables this summer, these are great for carrying things and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll fill these up.  Fruit punnets can also be used for growing seedlings if you find that you’re short of pots or trays.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

8. Vegetable peelings

Makes great compost and reduces landfill.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

9. Spice jars

Be sure not to poke your eye out on any bamboo canes that you’re using at the allotment. Simply pop these on top.

Top 10 items for allotment recycling

10. Plastic bottles are THE item for allotment recycling

Always useful, you can use them as individual propagators or you can cut them in half and fill them beer to catch slugs.

12714798-empty-plastic-water-bottles-on-white2