Gardening: Beat the ban with a watering canBy Linda Fort
March 16, 2012
A leaky stopcock under my sink made it difficult to use my outside tap several years ago.
I watched the man who installed the tap and he appeared to have some sort of debilitating disease which made his hands shake very hard.
After the work was complete, the tap functioned for a while, then the leak inside the cupboard under the sink began.
For a while, I used my garden hose and put an old dog bowl under the leak, turning off the stop cock after each use.
This became such a nuisance that I gave up using the hosepipe altogether and have watered the garden with watering cans filled in the kitchen sink ever since.
As with all the things that break in my house, it is very easy to get used to them after a bit and forget how convenient life used to be.
So, the hosepipe ban holds no horrors for me.
I have a couple of dozen containers and in high summer most of them need watering every day.
It is dull, repetitive work but it allows time to take a proper look at each plant.
Mulching is a good way to keep plants in flower beds moist in dry weather and avoid the need to water constantly.
The mulch – it could be garden compost, leaf mould, straw, grass clippings or pulverised bark – should be put on when the soil has had a good soaking. Once down it helps to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
On top of the soil in containers, I use fine gravel which keeps the roots cool and helps to prevent moisture evaporating.
It also looks more stylish than a coating of weeds and liverwort which permanently planted containers inevitably develop.
If you are planting new containers, it would be as well to include some of the proprietary water retaining gel that is recommended for use in hanging baskets and pots.
An early application of this when planting the pot could help keep your plants alive during moments of forgetfulness.
People say you can water hanging baskets with ice cubes – I say life is too short for hanging baskets at all, especially if you normally water yours with a hosepipe.
The warning of the hosepipe ban has come early in the season and we can all make contingency plans to help keep the garden growing well.
Buying a water butt – if you have room for one – might be a good investment especially if you have a good area of roof to draw the water from when we do get some rain.
If it stays dry, it may become necessary to recycle your bath water – this drought will make eco-heroes of us all.
Meanwhile offer to do you mum’s watering this summer as a Mothering Sunday gift.