Watering …

Just had these useful watering tips from a nursery I use so I thought I’d share them. We all need to keep an eye on the plants with the severe shortage of rain this spring … very strange times we’re living in. We all need our plants, and not just veg, the flowers provide the food for the pollinators who enable our veg to grow 😎🌹

Water, water everywhere...
Water, water everywhere...
May has carried on where April – the driest on record in the UK – left off. Which means plants new and old are desperate for water.

For the lucky ones, our gardens have been and continue to be a lockdown sanctuary. The weather has been wonderful for that but if you have not been watering even established plants will start to wilt and newer arrivals will be stressed and at risk of dying.

When to water
Ideally water plants early in the morning to avoid evaporation loss during the day or water in the evening so that the soil can soak up the moisture.
Depending on your soil type, clayey soil retains water, sandy soil will drain readily, try putting your spade into the soil and check whether the soil feels moist or not – then water appropriately.

For containers and pots, check to see if the soil is lighter in colour and whether the weight of the container is less than usual – then water.

How to water
It’s always better to water your garden before a drought sets in (drought is defined as a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall). For the avoidance of doubt, we are most definitely in a drought which means if you have not been watering you need to catch up.

Try to water thoroughly a couple of times a week rather than a daily quick sprinkle. A thorough soak encourages deeper roots which make for stronger, more drought-resistant plants.

Concentrate watering around the base of the plant. You will use less and with luck, weeds will get less.

How much water
Sandy soil needs more frequent watering than clay soils. For example a clay soil with wilting plants might need 18 gallons of water per 10 square feet and a sandy soil 12 gallons for the same area.

The general guide is about 5 gallons per 10 square feet for every week, depending on the temperatures, amount of sun and wind.

The trick with watering is to dig down a couple of inches near the roots and if the soil is dry then it is time to water.

What water
Rain water is the best to use as it does not have so many hard elements in it (such as calcium and magnesium – that cause limescale) and is the correct pH for the majority of plants. Collect rainwater in clean water butts from roofs – gutters and downpipes. It’s estimated that you could collect 5000 gallons of rainwater from a roof each year!

Tap water is fine but can be expensive and is a finite resource.

Boiled water from a kettle, when cooled down, can be used for your most precious plants, as is water distilled from tumble dryers and dehumidifiers.

Grey water from the kitchen, washing machine, baths, basins and showers can also be used. Most soaps and detergents are harmless to plants but bleaches, disinfectant, dishwasher salt and strong cleaning products should be avoided.

No.1. If you have planted within the last year then those plants are your top priority.

No. 2. To make the most of herbaceous plants you need to water them well during hot, dry spells.

No.3. Trees and shrubs planted in the last five years will suffer drought-stress without watering

No.4. Established trees and shrubs should have good root systems to manage water uptake during a dry spell, but check them every now and then

Top tips
Mulching is important as it reduces moisture loss from the upper layers of the soil.

Weeding is vital, as the weeds can use up valuable water.

Lawns generally do not need watering – and grass is so strong that it will always recover

The Ashridge Nurseries Team

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