Gardening with James Vaughan: Watering tips for your garden
We met up with some gardening friends last weekend at a barbeque at one of their homes. We walked the garden and exchanged ideas before sitting down to a delicious lunch- al fresco.
I always like attending such events because you come away with a better understanding of some aspect of gardening. What appeals to me most about gardening is that there are no black and white rules. What might fail for one gardener might thrive for another and vice versa. Sure, follow the guidelines in books or online but don’t let it dictate what plants you can grow and ones you cannot. If you see a plant you like – get it. But always bear in mind that if not treated correctly, it might just die or ‘fail to thrive’ as it is known in the trade. Try not to get too attached to certain trees and shrubs. They may live for many years or they may contract a virus and die within a couple of months.
During our lunch the conversation turned to watering and water conservation in the garden. So for this reason I have dedicated this week’s article to some watering tips for use in your garden.
As we head into the hot weather it might be worthwhile pointing out a few basic hints about watering and, perhaps more importantly, water conservation.
To begin with, water is one of the three essential elements needed for plant life, the other two being heat and sunlight. Water is needed by the plant for sustenance. The plant uses water to cool down their leaves in hot weather. The plant also uses water as the ‘vehicle’ by which it moves food from the soil into the roots and up through the stems and leaves.
Waterbutts are an excellent way to collect and store rainwater. Rainwater is much preferred by all house plants, especially Orchids and other sensitive plants. It lacks all the additives, including fluoride, that are present in tap water. Any container can be used to store water-so long as it is water-tight, obviously. I know a couple who have installed agricultural sized water containers underground in their garden. This allows them to store thousands of litres of rain water at any one time. They retrieve this water for use in the garden with the use of a small electric pump. The beauty about this approach is that there is no evidence of any cumbersome plastic containers above ground. Whichever container you use as a water butt please, please remember to keep the lid very securely sealed. It would be terrible to think of what could happen if a waterbutt or any body of water was left uncovered.
I have mentioned in a recent article about the benefits of mulching. The mulch helps to suppress weeds but it also helps to conserve water. Because the mulch lies on top of the soil it prevents the heat of the sun from reaching ground-level. This keeps the soil around the plant more moist and, thus, cooler. If the soil around a plant is cooler it then allows the plant to remain cooler. This lessens the plants need for water.