Dealing with Drought


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Notes from the talk on "Dealing with Drought" on July 9th with Geoff Ace.

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Dealing with Drought

Effects of drought:

Smaller plants, poorer yields, wilting, scorching, death, premature leaf-fall, possibly more flowers.

Reducing water loss:

Plenty of organic material esp. for sandy soils

Import clay soils as a more permanent improvement

Firm soil, don't loosen unnecessarily

Firm planting, early winter best time, winter rains will settle

Avoid weed competition, much more important than generally appreciated - get the hoe going!

Mulching, benefits far greater, good layer of bark chippings is best, but most expensive option

Shelter from wind, very drying

Provide shade, pergolas over borders rather than patios and paths

Using limited water:

When planting leave a depression around individual trees and shrubs so spot watering is more effective (less run-off)

Start vegetables early, so they get deeper roots before the drought

Vegetables - draw deeper drills than needed and only partially refill so drill will hold water when using a watering can

Create a drill when planting brassicas and leeks so water is close to plants

Can watering - take care to add enough water, test using a trowel to ensure soil is wet to a good depth

Critical periods for watering

when plants are young or newly planted

for peas and dwarf and broad beans when pods are developing

for runner beans as start to flower

soft fruit as fruit develop

lettuce, celery, radish need lots of water all the time

Plant selection:

Lawns - leave clover and yarrow, or replace with paving or gravel

Ornamentals - plants with no leaves, small leaves, gray or silver foliage or hairy leaves are most resistant to drought

Vegetables - Runner beans "white lady" "red rum" or "desiree" are less likely to drop flowers

Lettuce - "webbs wonder" "Salad bowl" are recommended

Radish "Red prince"



Copyright 2008 Caversham Horticultural Society