Top Ten Ways To Save Water

Top Ten Ways to Save Water in Your Garden

As a grower (and as a human!) I feel a big responsibility to play my part in looking after our natural resources. Gardens can easily use up a huge proportion of household water usage, but there’s a few simple things we can all do to conserve water, help look after the planet and save money at the same time!

 

1. Use less

Plants use osmosis to draw in water, so if the surrounding soil is dry, the plant will naturally increase the levels of vitamins and nutrients that give veg their taste. If you water too much (especially with veg like tomatoes), this can result in bigger but blander tasting fruit and veg. As a general rule, it’s best to give the soil a good drenching every few days rather than a light soak every day.

 

2. Get a water butt

If you’ve got a garden it’s worth getting a water butt. Not only is this “free” water, but it is better for watering than tap water, as it doesn’t have the added chemicals tapwater does. I’m always surprised at how fast our water butt in the front garden fills up, despite only being connected to the down-pipe of the guttering around our front porch.

 

3. Use a watering can

A hosepipe will use around 15 litres per minute, and tends to be less accurate than using a watering can.  Think of carrying those watering cans as a free gym session!

 

4. Get a bath siphon

I’ve added a longer hose to ours that reaches out our bathroom window and down to the back patio where I fill up watering cans, or attach to the hose pipe to water the back garden with. If you’re planning on re-using bath water choose natural/biodegradable bath products.

 

pexels-photo-952155. Water in the morning

Avoid watering in the afternoon when it is hot and sunny, as the water will evaporate quicker from the soil. Aim to water in the cool of the mornings or evenings, when water can soak into the soil. I generally aim to avoid watering in the evening, as damp soil in the dark of the evening/night encourages the slugs!

 

6. Make a funnel

Get a 2 litre drinks bottle and cut the bottom off. Dig a hole and pop it in the soil upside down. This gives you a funnel that will take water straight to the roots.

 

7. Mulch!

Using a mulch will help keep water in the soil as it prevents evaporation. Wood chips work well around fruit trees/bushes or ornamental plants. You can use straw under strawberries and other crops. Just watch out for any slugs and snails that might like to hide in the cool of the straw!

 

8. Plant right

Planting close together will help shade the soil and keep the air cool, preventing the plants from drying out so much. If growing in pots, put pots close together rather than spreading out. Picking varieties that are drought resistant can make a big difference. Varieties grown in warmer climes may be much more acclimatised to less water.

 

9. Improve your soil

If your soil is too sandy, water tends to drain away too quickly. If your soil is too heavy, water can run-off rather than running down to the roots. Adding lots of compost will help improve your soil’s ability to keep hold of water.

 

10. Keep on top of the weeding

Remove the competition!

How to plan your veg plot

It’s around this time of year that I start thinking about what I want to grow next year! The garden centres have reduced their seeds, and we’ve worked out what we grew this year and liked/disliked.

Work out what you want to grow

Personally, I have a few things in mind:

  1. I’ve got a toddler, so having things he can pick and eat are important. (He loves peas!)
  2. There are some veggies that taste a whole lot better home grown: Peas, Carrots, Potatoes, Tomatoes, etc.
  3. I’ll generally aim to grow some veg that is expensive to buy or hard to find in the shops: Raspberries, Strawberries, Gooseberries etc.
  4. Try not to go overboard, and remember the size of your plot/tubs etc.

Once you’ve made a list, and bought/collected your seeds make a growing plan. I make a simple table like this:

IMG_1074

  1. Name
  2. Sowing Months
  3. Planting Months
  4. Harvest Dates

(Download a template here!)

I also make a colour coded mark to show if it will be in the ground in winter/spring/summer. Doing this makes it easier when it comes to making a plan and working out successive planting and crop rotation.

 

Make your plan!

Get some card and cut it down to the rough shape of your veg plot. I find the inside of a cereal box is perfect for this. Using card makes it easier when you’re planting out and is a bit sturdier when it comes to making changes!

For my veg plots, I want to grow a variety of veg, so to make it easier to change things throughout the season, I’m dividing each plot into three. I’ve also cut out three templates for each plot so that I can make a plan for each season of the year (Spring, Summer, and Winter).

It’s then a case of putting pencil to paper (have a rubber handy!) and working out what you want to put where!

 

Veg Plot Plan

Using a plan like this will help keep things tidy and help you get the most out of your space. Now I’m off to make a to-do list to remind myself of when I need to get sowing!

 

Green Tomato Chutney

Scrumptious Green Tomato Chutney Recipe

This has got to be one of my favourite ways to use up a glut of tomatoes,  and to be honest, tastes so good that it’s worth growing tomatoes just to make this chutney!

It’s dead simple, and once made it lasts forever (although the ‘elf and safety types will probably say only four months and keep it in the fridge). It goes splendidly with cheese and biscuits or a Ploughman’s lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 800g Green tomatoes (I like to mix in some red ones too)
  • 200g Bramley Apple
  • 300g Red Onions
  • 2 Red chillies
  • 100g Raisins
  • 150ml Red Wine vinegar
  • 150ml White Wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 200g Muscovado Sugar

Method

  1. Wash the tomatoes and cut them into small wedges. Chop the onions and chillies. Peel, core and chop the cooking apple.
  2. Put the tomatoes, apple, onions, chilli and raisins in a pan with the white wine vinegar; bring to the boil and simmer for around an hour.
  3. Add the rest of the vinegar, and then add the salt and sugar, stirring well until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.
  5. Put into sterilised jars and keep them someplace cool and dark.

Most people recommend leaving the jars for around six weeks for the flavours to mature, but I can never wait that long… Tuck in and enjoy!