Water Conservation Gardening Tips
That completes the nuts and bolts ofbut there’s still another topic well worth looking at — water conservation. This is becoming increasingly important with the explosion in the number of water consumers and, let’s face it, the downright waste that one often sees going on in industry. Water is a commodity and has a value, but you wouldn’t think so to see the way it’s sometimes used.
On occasions, watering the garden becomes essential but a lot can be done to make better use of the water that is already in the. First of all, there are soil cultivations. As we’ve seen, if roots are able to penetrate deeply they are far better able to reach the cool and moist soil that lies beneath them. This is made possible by keeping the soil open, by one means or another. Occasional double digging and plenty of bulky are the main ways. Then there is the natural action of organic matter in the soil. If this is kept at a high level by the regular addition of garden , the water holding capacity of a sandy soil will be greatly increased.
Another good way of conserving moisture is by putting down a good, thick 3-4in (8-10cm) mulch of compost, peat or bark between standing plants. This will help enormously in preventing evaporation at the surface. It must, however, be applied when the soil is already moist or it will simply act as a mackintosh and actually prevent rain reaching the soil, making you worse off than before.
Black polythene is also a good mulch, in that it prevents evaporation and suppresses; but it doesn’t add organic matter to the soil, as the previous kinds do.
Incidentally, the belief that shallow surface hoeing helps in water conservation by creating a ‘dust mulch’ doesn’t really hold water; if you’ll excuse the pun. A firm surface is better because it allows a fuller root-run for the plants and enables the very important surface roots to make use of every available cubic inch of soil in their search for water. On the plus side, hoeing is definitely a good practice when it is directed at weed control; weeds will use more water than is lost by shallow hoeing.
Planting firmly and keeping the soil well consolidated will do a great deal of good, especially on light land. Something else we can do is keep the garden well sheltered from strong winds. No matter what direction they come from, winds will dry out the plants and the soil surface quicker than pretty well anything else.
Vegetables sown or planted in the autumn are far less likely to succumb to drought the following summer because they will be well established and many will be approaching maturity by the time the danger period is on them in the early summer.
It may sound odd but correct watering can actually save water. For example, we have already seen that evening watering allows the water to soak right down into the soil whereas, with midday watering, a fair amount of it will be evaporated.
Watering seeds andwith a watering can is much more economical than with a sprinkler; and frequently it does more good.
Although water is vital, we can do a lot to reduce the amount we have to administer simply by using it wisely and economically and by ensuring that none is wasted.