It’s all doom and gloom in the news just now, with the imminent arrival of a hosepipe ban, especially in my area of the UK, East Anglia when a ban will be imposed on 5th April 2012. So I have been thinking about my vegetable plot this year and making plans to scale down production for the coming season.
In some ways I should be expanding my plot this year as there are stories in the media which indicate that the price of vegetables, particularly potatoes, are set to rise as crops in this area may fail or be greatly reduced, but to be honest, the thought of planting lots of seeds, growing them on and planting out, only to have them die because I can’t give them sufficient water is a bit soul destroying, so I have decided to manage just one of my raised beds and plant a little of several things.
Packing the plants in tightly will help a little, as water evaporates from bare soil quicker than in a bed where the plants cover the ground and the one I will be using is near the greenhouse and therefore has access to a water butt, so this should also be of help in the coming months.
I will also choose varieties carefully and not include some of my family favourites - runner beans for example (or in fact any bean), which are hugely popular in my house, need a lot of water to yield a good crop so may not be a good choice for this year.
However, vegetables from the beet family and kale family, such as swiss chard and several herbs such as rosemary, thyme and lavender are all good choices as they need less water than fleshy types. Tomatoes don’t need a huge amount of water, although they must be watered regularly - little and often - otherwise they will not thrive. Other tips to ensure a healthy crop include adding compost to the soil, a mulch to stop evaporation and to water your crops at night rather than in the morning and certainly not in full sun.
It’s going to be a challenging season this year, so keep following to find out how I get on! And however you decide to deal with the drought, happy gardening!
-- Jane Dubinski