Saturday, 17 November 2018

Embedded water

I found some forgotten photos on a camera card.   According to the EXIF this was taken at 8.36pm on  7th August this year.

The endless warmth and long hours of daylight seem so long ago.  Admittedly I bloomin' hated much of this summer whilst it was happening; very few English gardens are designed for a three month drought and definitely not one within sight of the fells in the wettest county in England.  The damage potentially being done to plants and the pond depressed the hell out of me and robbed away the pleasure I should have felt at the opportunity to bask in the sunshine and be thoroughly warm.  The 'damage' done to our water meter will be with me every month for the next year;  I am not admitting how much our water bill has gone up (directly as a result of the additional water we put into the garden during May, June and July) but it's what we expected.

There is no way I'm doing that next year.  We have plenty of material available for mulches which will be going down over the soil between now and next Spring.  Fruit, vegetables and greenhouse plants need water whatever the weather, but we'll have to supply that from our tanks.

During the drought I did a lot of reading about gardening in such conditions and that led to a lot of thinking about embedded water.  It is why, halfway through the season, we composted all the tomato plants. Watering the greenhouse every second day was taking approximately 100 litres, and the net house needed the same if not more.  Multiply that by another long, dry summer and it doesn't take the mathematical prowess of Sheldon Cooper to see that the amount of water I might use is phenomenal.

We asked ourselves, "do a couple of tomatoes every day really justify this much water"?  The answer was a big addition of green material to the compost bin and what water we had left was diverted to the net house.

So, what was worth all the watering?  Without question - fruit.  I would grow fruit ahead of vegetables every single time: strawberries are incomparable to shop-bought ones and the redcurrants and blueberries were so prolific I could barely keep up.  But on the veg side, runner beans for sure - although there are no blog posts or photos, they had a brilliant year and we have enough in the freezer to last until Christmas.  The sad truth is that putting slug pellets in the net house made all the difference, and I shall do that again.

The Swiss Chard is also a favourite, and I'm picking it about once a week.  The carrots and black kale were thoroughly disappointing and will be composted when I get around to cleaning up the net house, and the garlic was a disaster.  I love Cavolo Nero when I buy it from Aldi, must be growing the wrong variety ☹️

The recent Stacey Dooley documentary about the damage cotton production has done to the Aral Sea is a shocking illustration of the cost of embedded water, and without even realising it I think I was doing the same in the greenhouse, albeit on a much smaller scale.  It would be nice if I could get our next water bill to be less than the one we've just had for 2019 . . .


  1. I felt for you this summer, it must have been heartbreaking watching all the love and hard work you put into your garden being ruined by the drought. I must watch that documentary about cotton production, I'm glad I have never been interested in fashion and cheap clothes. Things I no longer wear go to charity shops, not thrown in the bin like the young of today do.

    1. Thanks Eileen. I love getting clothes in charity shops - strikes me as perfect recycling! I thought cotton was one of the 'good guys', and was hugely shocked to see the effect its growth and production has.

  2. I too use slug pellets under nets, where (I hope) nothing else can get at them. As another in a wet climate I wouldn't, in a normal year, be able to grow any veg at all otherwise.

  3. Thanks J. I hated putting the slug pellets out but when I had a "d'uh" moment and realised nothing else would get poisoned it made a phenomenal difference. Last season - all runner bean plants destroyed within days of being put out, this year - really decent crop.


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