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Water, water...nowhere!

Many of us are looking at our gardens in despair as plants wilt, trees drop their leaves and some things simply look (or are) dead. The impending hose pipe ban will force us to make difficult decisions and possibly abandon our vegetable gardens completely. At our most recent visit to Old Cross Street, one Chiddingfold-based member said she had basins in all her sinks and was collecting water from washing hands, filling the kettle, rinsing vegetables, etc. I confess that I thought that was overkill at the time but now the family is truly converted. And I thank her for the suggestion as do the lucky plants that are getting a well needed drink!

Here's a few tips from the experts on what to do in a drought.

Domestic wastewater (known as ‘grey water’) can be used in the garden. Grey water can come from the kitchen, the washing machine or baths, basins and showers. In most circumstances, household soaps and detergents are harmless to plants particularly if you are using eco-friendly products in the first place. It is best to use grey water on flowering plants rather than your fruit and vegetables particularly if they will be eaten raw. Grey water should be used as it is produced and storage avoided to prevent harmful organisms from multiplying.

Prioritise the plants to water! Top priorities are seedlings, cuttings and young plants, plus anything that’s been recently planted as well as thirsty plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

Abandon annuals or plants that can easily be grown from seed next year or once conditions have improved.

Don't water your lawns! They will go brown but will recover quickly once we have some rainfall. Same applies to mature trees and shrubs. They are all tougher than you think.

Avoid using sprinklers as they are less effective and waste more water. Use seep hoses or a watering can to direct water straight to the root system.

Most plants including those in pots will benefit from less frequent but more thorough watering. Most experts suggest that every 7-10 days is sufficient for most plants. Watering less frequently encourages them to develop deeper root systems and seek out water lower down in the soil.

Avoid watering in the middle of the day where evaporation rates are noticeably higher and water is less likely to reach the roots. The best times to water are early in the morning or in the evening.

Fingers crossed it rains soon. Might do a little dance this evening!

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