Posted: Thursday 10 July 2014
by Pippa Greenwood
With so little rain, I'm having a near-constant battle with dryness as fruits and other crops desperately need water to swell to capacity.
Clay soils may be renowned for becoming a bit soggy, but at this time of year my clay soil takes on a fascinating dust-like texture – sometimes even the foliage becomes grey with a fine coating of my ‘sticky’ clay.
We've incorporated an unbelievable quantity of well-rotted manure over the years (I so often wish I had actually kept a running total of the number or massive trailer loads bought to us by a very kind local farmer), plus plenty of home-matured compost, spent bagged compost and so on, but it has the ability to disappear as if the soil was the proverbial black-hole.
That said, it has had an effect on the soil after 19 years of forking in all these wonderful, bulky organic ingredients. In those areas we tamed first, the crops are definitely less likely to suffer drought stress than in the newer, less well-fed parts. All the same, there is a near-constant battle with dryness as fruits and other crops so desperately need all they can get to swell to capacity.
Top priorities have been all those crops prone to bolt like lettuce, rocket and coriander, those with very juicy, quick- growing fruits like the strawberries (I tried being good with these for a while and withheld all water, but Nature alone produced a set of acorn-like fruits and a lot of complaints from the family) and also beans, courgettes and squash. The courgettes in particular are prone to produce very disappointing results if the soil gets at all dry. Not only are they more mildew prone, but they also produce lots of male flowers – not a lot of good when it comes to cropping.
Given a bit of extra water and a deep mulch too, I will soon be able to join the ranks of carrier-bag-full-of-courgettes carrying gardeners, desperately trying to give away excess crops. But without that extra water, I’d have to become a bag snatcher.
16/07/2014 at 21:40
You might not have to face these water priorities while using artificial plants. Because you don't require any of these things while using silk plants.
16/07/2014 at 21:41
But that wouldn't be gardening, would it?
16/07/2014 at 21:44
There could be a whole parallel gardening experience here. Silk slugs and silk greenfly.
16/07/2014 at 21:46
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16/07/2014 at 22:31
What??? Did I read that right