In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.
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.
Watering cans are the most traditional and simplest way to water but, depending on their size, they may be heavy to handle. Haws Watering Cans are perhaps the best known make and there are plastic and metal ones from 2.25 ltr to 8.8ltr (1/2 gal - 2 gals) capacity.
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.
Hozelock offer a wide range of watering solutions in their automatic watering system that includes trickle hoses and sprinklers that can be operated manually or controlled by a timer. Trickle hoses deliver small amounts of water continuously to plants and are particularly useful if you go on holiday. Easy to install, they are extendable to borders, containers and hanging baskets. See our blog that explains Hozelock's many advantages and accessories that are available.
However, all this equipment is useless if you don't know how to water.
Water in the evening or early morning when the soil can absorb the moisture before it is evaporated
Rather than watering often and little it's best to soak plants regularly, ensuring the water gets to the plant's roots.
When using a watering can, water gently so that the earth doesn't form a hard crust around the plant. Make sure the water goes to the roots by aiming your can at the base of the plant, you could fashion a reservoir around the plant, so that water is collected and slowly sinks into the soil.
Another method that delivers water to the roots is to cut a plastic bottle in half and position it upturned next to the plant, then fill with water which will slowly drain into the earth.
Baskets and containers, especially terracotta, need to be watered daily in hot weather. If the compost has shrunk away from the sides, sit the basket or container in a bucket of water for a while.
Although sprinklers can water a large area effortlessly, you will need to leave them on for at least an hour and watch out for leaf scorching on hot sunny day.
Water Storing Crystals and water retentive gel are useful in hanging baskets and containers, and when digging a hole for new plants add lots of organic matter that not only provides goodness but also acts as a sponge.
Keep borders free from weeds that compete for any available moisture. Weed control fabric is an excellent idea or alternatively at least 3ins of mulch made up of compost, cocoa shells or bark to keep moisture in the soil and lessen evaporation.
It makes sense to use water wisely. Take a look at your garden now to see whether you should be watering in a different way or using the various products that are now on the market to maximize this precious resource's effectiveness.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.
Zest 4 Leisure manufactures a large variety of timber garden furniture, fencing and leisure products, David Coton visited their brand new nine acre site near Chester last week to find out more about current development and future plans.