Waiting for rain

by Pippa Greenwood

I know that gardeners in other areas of the country have been blessed with proper, sustained downpours, but no such luck here.

Droplets of rain on an alchemilla mollis leafI know that gardeners in other areas of the country have been blessed with proper, sustained downpours, but no such luck here. My only experience of rain in recent weeks was during a (very enjoyable) visit to Garden Show Ireland at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast.

The early courgette fruit that I boasted about in a recent blog has fallen victim to the combination of dry weather and strong winds – I found it lying, dehydrated and dishevelled, on the ground this morning.

Moisture is lost from plant foliage via the minute pores, or stomata, on the leaf surface (most commonly on the underside). This process is known as transpiration. The moisture expelled from the plant tends to accumulate in ‘shells’ close to the leaf, helping to mitigate the loss of water vapour from the plant itself. But, when plants are bombarded by strong gusts of wind, these pockets of moisture are blown away. This in turn causes further moisture loss from the stomata. A vicious circle…

I have been watering plants wherever and whenever I can. Also, I’ve enriched my heavy soil with moisture retentive manure and compost, and applied a mulch. My thirstier crops are situated in slight dips, to increase their chances of receiving whatever surface water is available. But I can only do so much. I’m increasingly desperate for some serious rain, so will have to resort to a rain dance if it doesn’t come soon…

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/06/2011 at 18:05

Have no fear, Pippa, it is only the first day of summer and just think how warm the soil is now. If you planted seeds now they would have ideal conditions for growth. I have had to wait till now in Bristol to be able to get my bean wigwams in the ground and have untangled the lanky plants too long in the conservatory and tied them in, but i bet the seeds I am popping in the soil beside them will give better plants and a higher yield. The rain will come.

Gardeners' World Web User 01/06/2011 at 21:01

Not much in the way of rain in Essex, watering can all the way. At least the wind seems to have dropped which murdered some of my Irises

Gardeners' World Web User 01/06/2011 at 23:36

We have had a nice bit of rain here in North Somerset (not too far away from Happymarion)The garden is certainly looking better for it already but alas we now have another dry spell with 24degrees forecast so the water butts will probably run dry again soon!....I have to confess that the hot sunny weather is nice for getting on with my hard landscaping projects though and does put a spring in your step! http://higgysgardenproject.blogspot.com/ Higgy

Gardeners' World Web User 02/06/2011 at 09:04

Even though we had a 'proper deluge' all day on Bank Holiday Monday in the East Midlands, we've resorted to putting the washing machine water on our plants to save them. We use ECOVER washing powder and fabric softner so nothing dies (I believe that other washing powders and fabric softners are poisonous to plants) and we did this last year too and it worked really well. Luckily the water butt is just outside the utility room so it's no problem to collect the water, unluckily we have a water efficient washing machine so we don't get that much out (approx 60L per wash!!). We're enjoying the half term in good weather though.

Gardeners' World Web User 02/06/2011 at 09:27

Hello just to say that here in the Netherlands we have it bad to, even the rivers are drying up. Soil is so dry, plants are crying out for water, the growth is slow, gras seed wil not seed out. today we have another hot sunny day, we have had some rain but with the wind and sun it does not last long. here in the Netherlands we need at least 200ml. wel I just hope we all can get through this and find away to balans wor gardens out. Take care.

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