Easy Watering in Times of Drought

This time of year, watering can become a major trauma on the plot. I can almost hear the squash and celery plants screaming at me to come over and flood their roots.

I rarely make it to the plot more than once a week so I’ve made efforts to increase the water retention in the soil around the most thirsty of plants. The celery, squash and butter beans have all been planted into trenches that were filled with partially rotted kitchen waste in the spring. In addition, the squash have been set into valleys so that I can tip a bucket of water around each plant without it running off to nurture the surface weeds.

Watering on allotments can be a contentious practice. Effin Frank will forcefully inform any newcomer to the site that they shouldn’t “effin water them plants or you’ll effin burn the effin roots”.

He could be right if watering means a scant drizzle from the rose of a watering can. The trick is to drench a plant if you’re going to bother watering at all. Send the roots downwards rather than encouraging them to stick close to the surface where the soil will bake in hours.

At home my problems are much greater. Most of my garden plants are in pots and although I technically ought to be able to water my plants daily, they rarely get considered from one week to the next. When I see the pathetic wilting of the entire plant I rush out with my jug of water and attempt to saturate the compost. It’s a futile effort. If you’ve ever let a pot plant dry out (I’m sure everyone has) its darn tricky to get the compost to absorb more than a thimble full of water. The rest whizzes through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot and nourishes the weeds in the cracks between the paving slabs.

Drip IrrigationI was recently sent an easy watering kit to set up amongst my pot plants and it has proved to be an ingenious way to re-saturate dried out pot plants and deliver a steady drip of water during the summer months.

You get an awful lot in your kit for the money. The drip irrigation kit I used was just under £30 and provided enough drippers for 20 pots and huge length of the main supply pipe, with connectors to allow you to cut and split the supply so you can water pots in different areas.

Easy watering drip irrigation kit

I set it up before I went away on my summer holidays and I have arrived home to find my pots looking extremely healthy, which never happens when I go away.

I’m extremely happy with this kit but if you keep your pots on different levels it takes a bit of faffing to ensure a steady drip to all pots.


  • accurately delivers drips of water direct to your plant
  • most efficient way of watering pot plants without run off


  • takes a while to install, laying out the feeder pipes, cutting out the dripper pipes and inserting the connectors
  • can lead to different rates of dripping if you have pots at different levels

Saving Water in the Garden

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Constructions Galore

We’re only getting alternate weekends down on the plot at the moment, so it’s a great blessing when we manage to coincide with the good weather, although after 5 hours of meddling in the mud and sun this Saturday I was fit to drop. Good job we had an extended weekend to recover.

I spent most of those hours pottering in the greenhouse we resurrected on our last visit. It’s just about hanging on in there but looks like a very well worn teddy, complete with stitching and bandages – I don’t think I’ll manage to squeeze another season out of the plastic covering.

Tomato Contraptions

I banked all the sides up (inside and out) with old and new grow bags to try and protect it from the ravages of the wind and then set to, planting 15 assorted tomato plants and experimenting with an array of self-watering gadgetry and fancy supports.

The first watering system I tried out was the “Growtube” but my bottle reservoir just evacuated its contents within the space of about 45 seconds and resulted in most of the contents of the grow bag spewing over the sides. I was reasonably happy with the alternative bottle attachment you can see in the right hand side of this photo. It at least held the water for the 5 hours I was watching it. So long as it hasn’t got a permanent blockage I shall be happy.

Bean Support

While I was sweltering under the polythene, Lynn was out in the open, constructing stuff that actually has some sturdiness about it.

The plot won’t know what hit it.

We now have a bean support system that doesn’t look as though it will crack under the weight of the first two pods, a peculiarly creative broad bean “thingy” and a stretch of wind break that will offer further protection to the rapidly decaying greenhouse.

Cat's Cradle

I’m feeling quite happy with the plot at the moment. We seem to have got on top of the situation and set ourselves up for a good growing season.

The challenge now will be to keep on top of the watering and find enough space, that hasn’t already been colonised by the ubiquitous onion sets, to grow actual food. I’ve got 12 squash seedlings in the greenhouse but have no clue of where to put them, perhaps I need to get myself on the waiting list for a second, dedicated, squash plot.

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