Anybody who tells you that gardening is a cheap hobby is telling you a big fib. Of course, growing your own and keeping an allotment is the height of fashion at the moment. Everybody you meet has Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fever and long may it continue. A friend of mine recently gave up his allotment because the sheer popularity of it in his area meant the council gave him a terrible plot that was full of roots and impossible to work. It turned out that it had never been an actual allotment at all, but used to be one of the hedgerows around it! Councils all over the UK are busy trying to extend the allotments available to cater for the craze.
But the truth is that, despite what you might read in the papers, gardening isn’t a frugal activity unless you make an special effort to ensure it’s the case. And the extraordinary hot weather we’re having at the moment underlines something that DJ and I learned to our cost last year – keeping your garden well watered can be an expensive business unless you make an effort to reuse as much H20 as you can. Last year when DJ first made a real go of the vegetable garden, introducing several new plots, we enjoyed some great produce all year round. But when our half-yearly water bill dropped through the door I was in shock. It was no less than 50 per cent higher than in the previous year. I was horrified.
So this year we have made some changes. We’ve got some water butts in place now in the back garden to harness rain water. Plus we’ll be using more of the household ‘grey’ water to keep our flowers hydrated. Unfortunately you can’t use grey water to water vegetables. We’ll also be much more selective about if and when we use our trigger hose pipe.
Here are some tips on how to water your garden frugally which we are introducing into our garden:
– Invest in some water butts – whether purchased from a DIY store, borrowed from friends or obtained gratis from Freecycle. Some water companies and councils offer good deals on them too. Install them outside so that they can take rainwater from your roof and guttering. Don’t forget that if you have a greenhouse you can install them around it too to collect even more water.
– Be careful, though. Don’t use the recycled rainwater to water young seedlings as the bacteria in it can be harmful to fledgling plants.
– The most economical times to water plants are first thing in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler and the water takes longer to evaporate from the surface. Give the plants a good long soak rather a sprinkle and you shouldn’t have to water them as often.
– Add mulch (wood chippings etc.) around plants and shrubs to help maintain moisture levels.
– It’s not always practical if you don’t have much space (we have lots of tomatoes in grow bags at the moment), but plant veg in the ground or raised beds if you can, rather than in containers. This way the plant can use its root system to gather moisture from a wider range. Containers dry out much more quickly.
– Using a watering can uses less water than a hosepipe, but if you have a hosepipe, attach a trigger to it to control the flow.
– Household grey water can be used to water non-edible plants and flowers but don’t use it to water veg.
– Investigate drought-loving plants and introduce them into your garden to save on the water bill.
– Don’t forget to save water around the home too, by showering instead of bathing and not leaving the tap running, to save on your overall bill.
Got any more tips on saving water in the garden or around the home? Leave a comment and let me know.
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