As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
With a bit of luck, the summer might start soon and that means you may have to keep plants well watered throughout any dry period. David Hall has a few ideas on the most effective ways of ensuring your plants don't go thirsty.
The simplest and most traditional piece of equipment is of course the Watering Can. Buy a plastic or metal one that you can carry easily when full, a long spout is particularly useful to extend its reach.
A hose is useful whatever the size of your garden. Make sure it's good quality and doesn't kink which will restrict water flow. A hose reel will make it simple to tidy away, and a sprinkler attachment, which can be left to automatically spray over a wide area, will save a lot of standing around.
Water Butts are an excellent idea for a variety of reasons. By connecting them to guttering and downpipes on your house and shed, you can store and re-cycle rainwater, this relieves demand on mains water resources and helps to avoid a hose pipe ban. If there is a ban, you can fit a butt pump and hose to deliver water from the butt to your plants.
Many plants such as blueberries and camellias prefer rainwater from butts as it's slightly acidic, it also contains nitrogen which will benefit plants' foliage. Tap water on the other hand contains lime which will mark plants and also slowly accumulate in containers making the compost increasingly alkaline.
Summer holidays are something that you may look forward to, but can prove disastrous for your plants. Those established plants in the border may be able to survive, especially with a good compost or bark mulch, but what about container grown varieties, vegetables in grow bags and hanging baskets?
The best solution is an irrigation system that can be controlled manually or automatically. While you are lying on the beach, your plants will be quenching their thirst with a regular and controlled water supply.
For an extensive review of how a Hozelock automatic watering system works, see our blog that explains its many advantages and the accessories that are available.
However, all this equipment is useless if you don't know how to water.
Remember that watering in the early morning or evening is best, so that the moisture doesn't evaporate in the mid-day sun. Make sure that a crust isn't formed on top of the soil restricting its absorption.
Bear in mind that some plants, particularly alpines need water only in very dry periods and need excellent drainage. On the other hand, containers, pots, especially terracotta, and greenhouse plants need daily watering, although be careful that the compost doesn't become waterlogged.
Aim at the base of the plant so that the water reaches the roots. Building a little reservoir around the plant is a good idea, the water will then slowly sink into the ground. You can also cut a plastic bottle in half and position it adjacent to the plant, then fill with water.
Heating will be a deciding factor on the variety of plants you are able to grow in a greenhouse and the number of plants that can be kept over winter. Here, Robert Hall goes through the pros and cons of the different types of heating that are available.
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