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Wise watering: Make the most of your water

July 1st, 2007 by Karsten

While watering your plants, there’s a few things worthwhile to consider, to make your work more effective. Many people tends to go berserk in their watering efforts, and water their plots several times a day, which is totally unnecessary.

Here’s a few tips to help you make the most of your watering efforts:

  • In most cases, it’s better to give your plants a good long soak 1-2 times a week, rather than a bit of water every day. This is particularly true for more established plants and fruit bushes.
  • Use common sense. Newly planted plants and young plants needs more water than established plants, because their root systems has not yet developed enough to be able to soak up as much water.
  • Direct the water to where it’s needed - the roots of your plants! Using a watering can or a jet attachment on your hosepipe is the best options, while sprinklers shouldn’t be used at all. Yes - they make light work of watering - but also they waste a lot of water.
  • If you buy in plants in pots (for example tomatoes), dig in the empty pot next to the plant and put the water in the pot, in order to direct the water to the roots. By watering this way you beat evaporation. Also - cutting out the bottom of plastic bottles - and digging them in next to your plants upside down will do the trick.
  • Focus your watering efforts on the plants that needs it the most - particularly when they are flowering and fruiting.
  • Above all - do your watering early in the morning if you can. I know this is tricky for many working allotmenteers. Alternatively, water in the evening. Never let the sun burn away your water by watering in the mid-day hours.

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Wise watering: Beat the drought

June 30th, 2007 by Karsten

There’s a good few things you can do before a drought sets in, to conserve water on your plot, and make your watering efforts last for longer.

The following 4 tips, 2 of which takes place in the preparation stages, will all help your plants to draw up more water.

Digging

The benefits of digging over you plot has been emphasised frequently here on Allotmenteer.co.uk. It breaks up the hard lumps in the soil, and so allows the roots of your plants to penetrate deeper into the ground. While the top 2 inches of soil gets dry and hot, usually the lower layers will remain cool and moist, so your plants will benefit being able to “tap into” this ressource.

Adding Organic Matter

This is one of the best ways to conserve water. While digging over your plot, adding garden compost, well rotted manure and other degradable organic matter will help to hold on to moisture. As you know I myself have dug in tonnes if manure over the past months - and it shows!

Weeding

Never forget that weeds need both water and nutrients too! Don’t leave them in to steal any available moisture that rightfully belongs to your plants. You should be weeding your crops regularly - always keeping the hoe within reach. You’ll be surprised what 10 minutes of weeding a day can do. I do this while waiting for my water butt to fill up.

Mulching

Mulching around established plants is a very good idea. It helps to contain the water, keep down weeds and add nutrients to the soil. Use garden compost, wormcastings if you’ve got a wormery, leafmould, manure or even woodchippings (this is better round fruit bushes). Never do mulching on dry ground - but wait till after it’s been raining or you’ve finished watering. Mulching dry ground is pointless.

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Recycling water

June 29th, 2007 by Karsten

Recycling water is something I’m quite sure that most allotmenteers do anyway - but for those of you who doesn’t - I decided to include this article anyway. If you’re already recycling water on your allotment plot - keep reading though! You may still learn something :-)

The obvious thing to do - when it comes to recycling water - is to collect rainwater from the roof of your shed(s) and greenhouse(s). If you haven’t got a gutter fitted already - it’s not a big job to do - and in the long run it will save you a lot of time not having to fill your water butts using a hose pipe.

If you have a large area under roof - you may consider linking up a number of water butts - which is easily done by connecting the overflow from your first water butt to the bottom of the next one with a piece of hose pipe. Gravity will do the rest.

Another way of recycling water is to use the much underused ressource of grey water. Grey water is water that has already been used in the home for washing and bathing. It’s easy to reuse this water in your garden or on your allotment plot, as long as you stick to a few simple rules:

  • Never re-use water which has strong chemicals or detergents in it, as it’s too contaminated. Water from baths and showers is fine.
  • Always allow the water to cool off before re-using it
  • Vary where you use it in your garden or on your plot.
  • Never use it on edible crops or leaves

I know the above rules may rule out the use of grey water for a lot of allotmenteers - but for those of you who grow cut flowers etc. - limited use shoud be fine, and the re-use of grey water applies to those of you who has a garden of your own as well as an allotment plot.

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Hosepipe bans

June 28th, 2007 by Karsten

During hot spells in summer, some areas in the UK will be low on water, and the water companies in the affected areas will impose a hosepipe ban. So what is a hosepipe ban then - what does it mean?

The legislation behind hosepipe bans was put in place in 1945, and is directed on domestic users, to stop them from watering their gardens or wash their cars using a hosepipe. The aim is to stop these high useage activities to preserve water supplies and take the pressure of the water companies during peak periods.

So how does this apply to us as allotmenteers? Well - some UK water companies (like Thames Water) - class allotment plots as private gardens, to which the ban applies, while other water companies don’t. Hence allotmenteers in those areas will remain unaffected.

With the law being over 60 years old - some confusion has risen as to what you can or can’t do during a ban. According to the current law….

You’re NOT allowed to:

  • Use a hose to water your lawn or plants
  • Use a hose to water your vegetable plot
  • Use any watering system connected to the mains
  • Use a hose to wash your car or van

What you CAN do is:

  • Use a hose or jet wash to clean a patio area, driveway or your garden furniture
  • Use a watering can
  • Use a bucket to wash your car or van
  • Fill a swimming pool or pond

Double standards? Could be! But until further notice these are the rules that applies.

So how can you check if your area is under a hosepipe ban? The local media will more than likely tell you. Failing that - you can check the website of your local water company - who will also tell you about how the rules apply to you.

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When the going gets hot!

June 27th, 2007 by Karsten

It usually happens at least once every year. Summer comes around - it hots up - and plants in gardens and on allotment plots across the country starts lacking water.

At the same time - in a lot of areas in the UK - water becomes a sparse commodity, and its use is restricted by so called hosepipe bans.

There’s not much we can do about that. After all - come rain or shine - there’s nothing we can do to control the weather! What we can do is prepare for what it may bring, and use the ressources at our disposal as wisely as possible.

So what can you, as an allotmenteer, do to prepare for droughts? There’s a number of things:

  • Make sure you dig in ample amounts of organic material during autumn/winter to ensure that your soil structure improves. This will help to keep a good level of moisture in the ground during dry spells, and make the watering you do last longer.
  • Get as many water butts as you can on your plot - and make sure you collect water from the roof of your shed(s) and greenhouse(s)
  • Plan ahead - and select plants that will tolerate dry spells. Many allotmenteers are now trying their luck with produce usually grown in the mediterranian region - with succes.
  • Take steps to guide your water to where it matters - the roots of you plants! More on this later….

I’m hoping you can see you’re not fighting a loosing battle - as we’ll be looking at more details regarding watering over the next few days.

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Watering your allotment plot

June 26th, 2007 by Karsten

In the next few days we’re going to look at the subject of watering an allotment plot. At the time of writing these articles this could seem like a bit of a joke, since it’s raining quite a bit, and has been on and off for about 2 weeks.

Never the less - things can change quickly - and the months of July and August can turn quite warm and sunny. When they do, it brings to the surface a few issues for gardeners in general, and allotmenteers in particular.

We’re going to be looking at the following issues:

  • Drought and hosepipe bans
  • Recycling water
  • Using water wisely

There’s a lot of things that can be done, now and in coming seasons, to ensure that you can maintain a good plot that will continue to give you lots of pleasure and good yields of crops.

I hope you’ll enjoy the series - find inspiration - and tips on how to make the most of your plot, drought or not.

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Let it rain - let it rain - let it rain…

June 25th, 2007 by Karsten

Wooshhh! And before you know it - another month is nearly gone and over! The latter part of this june has been as wet as they come, which is good in one sense - and not so good in another. Well - at least for me that is!

It’s a well publicised fact that I’ve not managed to do all the work I’d have liked to on my plot these last few months, and so have not got everything out of it that I wanted to. I still have to do some planting as I move along digging - which is down to me being a bit stubborn - and wanting the plot to be dug over fully this season.

The main reason for this is that I’m probably going to struggle on the time issue even more next year - due to an addition being made to our family this autumn - but also because I have seen the benefit of digging the plot on the parts where I’ve managed to get it done.

The good thing about the rain is - obviously - that the plants on my plot gets the water they need, without much effort on my part. That is without a doubt a very good thing. And it has given me a bit of time to do some research and write a few articles to be posted on this site in the next week or so on the subject of…. watering! How ironic!

Well - summer could still be on its way - it could turn very warm, and in certain areas of the UK this means that restrictions will be put in place on the use of water, so even though it’s raining cats and dogs at the moment, things could well change!

On my plot this weekend I managed to get a bit of weeding done, I got those of my potato plants that needed earthing up seen to, and I picked a small bucket of raspberries that another plotholder on the site let me help myself to. This is one of the things I love about allotmenteering - the social aspect of networking and helping eachother out.

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I’m still here….

June 10th, 2007 by Karsten

Hello fellow allotmenteers :-)

Though I must admit that Allotmenteer.co.uk can be said to bear evidence to the contrary - I’m still around - and well!

It’s just that life is very busy for me at the moment - as I’m sure you can appreciate with me being a gardener. This, together with looking after my family and trying to keep up with my plot takes up most of my time, and I have to say that after a busy day - sitting in front of my computer isn’t a top priority.

That being said - I will be back and strong as soon as things calm down a bit - and I’m gathering loads of information that I’m going to put up on the site later on.

On my plot I’ve put in my squash, marrows, potatoes, and planted out my sweetcorn and tomatoes over the last couple of weeks. My main problem is that I didn’t get all the digging done I wanted to in spring - but I’m adamant that my whole plot gets dug over the same during this season - so I’m quite literally putting seeds and plants in as I dig along.

Puts a bit of extra pressure on myself - but if it’s worth doing (and it certainly is) - it’s worth doing properly! This has always been my philosophy, and I don’t see any need to change that just now.

So as soon as things calm down a bit - and I’m sure they will - I’ll be back with a vengeance. Gives you something to look forward to :-)

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Let the planting begin….

May 7th, 2007 by Karsten

Another weekend is gone - and it has been a busy one! I’ve been digging, preparing seedbeds, tidying up and I’ve started planting out!

Thursday afternoon I had news of another delivery of manure to the site - and so I decided to make the most. Finally managed to finish digging over one part of my plot (way behind schedule), but with my job getting busier time has been sparse.

Now I quite litterally put in plants/seeds as soon as I’ve dug the soil over - so I’ve had to let go a bit of my planning. I’m sure I’ll be ok though. The important thing is to get things done at the moment - and I’ve still got plenty to do.

I put in my raspberry canes in their final position, as well as my redcurrant. The redcurrant and the early variety of raspberries will not be producing a crop this year - but I’ve got things to look forward to then.

Also I have planted out my sons sunflowers - 28 of them to be precise - after just under half of them was devoured by snails. I hate the little buggers!

Finally, I managed to get my strawberry plants planted out. The majority of them will not be producing a crop this year, as they are first year plants, and they have been in the pots for by far too long. Some of them has set flowers in the warm weather though, and one of them had tiny fruits on it, but still I’m not too optimistic.

In the coming week I hope to be able to but my potatoes in the ground (the first early ones at least), and as well I’m hoping to be able to put in my marrows and sweetcorn after they have been hardened off during the last 10 days.

As you can tell there’s enough to do before I’m jetting off on another family holiday on friday afternoon. I just hope the weather will treat me kindly - though the forecast doesn’t look too good.

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Looking back

April 30th, 2007 by Karsten

While I’m a firm believer in living life today, here and now, I think it can be a healthy excersise to stop for a minute and look back at what you have achieved.

It gives you chance to celebrate your victories, learn from your mistakes, and more importantly plan what steps you want to take in the future.

This morning I have spent a bit of time looking at this site - and reflect on where it has come from - while trying to think of where I would like to take it.

Let me just say that I’m proud to be the owner of this site! I put it online in february this year - and considering the effort I have put into the site - it has performed very well indeed. It has consistently more than doubled its number of visitors every month, to about 300 unique visitors this month, and this is without doing any marketing at all what so ever.

I’m not going to rest on the laurels though. As long as there are allotment plotholders out there, with internet access, who doesn’t know about the site, there’s a job to do :-)

Also - I would like to interact more with you - my visitors. While the site is mostly build around what is happening on my own plot, and me sharing things I’ve learnt in my short career as an allotmenteer, there’s so much more happening on plots across the country.

My intention is to build an online community for allotment plotholders, and people with similar interest, which means I would like to hear from you and have you sharing your experiences and points of view with other users of the site. The site already offers this functionality - and if you would like to take part - why not register and post a comment to this post and/or another post where you feel I’m missing something? Also - I’m open to any ideas as to how you think I can improve the site - just leave a comment.

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