Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gardening

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gardening

Article excerpt

DESPITE the recent rainfall, some water companies are still warning of droughts this summer.

But saving water is something we all need to think about because summer will be upon us before we know it.

We use 145 litres of water a day, yet we could harvest thousands of litres of rainwater from our household roof if we just took a little time to invest in a decent water butt and diverter or other container. Guy Barter, RHS chief horticultural adviser, says: "There is a lot gardeners can do that does not involve extra watering. "For example, spiking and feeding a lawn in spring will help it hold up in dry weather - then if it goes brown, it will recover even faster when rain returns.

"It's also a good idea to plant hardy plants early to avoid the hot weather and let them get their roots into the surrounding soil to search out moisture.

"When the warm weather arrives, keep any newly purchased plants in pots under light shade until the weather turns cooler."

"Of course, gardeners in North England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at the moment don't normally suffer from bad droughts," he continues, "but by following our suggestions, they will not only be following good gardening practice but also will be preparing for the occasional very dry summers."

Soil cultivation is of key importance when protecting plants in drought conditions. If we dig in large amounts of compost, well-rotted manure or other organic matter now, it will not only improve the soil structure but will also aid water retention.

The charity advises gardeners to plant plants when they are still small, so they can develop much greater resilience by adapting to their conditions from a young age. Planting as early as possible in spring could also be beneficial because the sooner roots can start exploring the soil for water before dry weather arrives, the better. Mulching after planting can help limit water loss from soil and promote a good root environment, which will help the retention of moisture while plants establish. All new plants should be thoroughly watered and kept watered in the first season in dry periods, to ensure they establish well. …

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