Growing veggies in a drought and hose pipe ban

The hose pipe ban started in the Epsom area on 5th April.  No hose pipes can be used at all on the allotment sites, except to transfer water from the taps  to the water butts beside them.  Watering can only be done by watering can.  Hose pipes may NOT be used to fill our own water butts.  The hose pipe ban will last all summer.  There are various articles giving advice on using less water.

There is an article from  Allotment Vegetable Growing   at

It says:

Growing with a hosepipe ban

Hosepipe BanHere in Britain summer usually consists of grey skies and rain with three fine days followed by a thunderstorm. Just occasionally we have a glorious summer, blue skies and blazing sun to rival any Spanish resort.

The downside of a good summer is lack of water for the garden followed usually by a hosepipe ban. Now let’s get it straight, there is no shortage of water in the UK. There is a shortage of water storage capacity that make coping with exceptional dry years difficult. Not to mention leaks in the distribution system that waste huge amounts of water.

However, whatever I think of the water monopolies, a ban is a ban and a £1,000 fine can be imposed for cheating, so let’s consider the options.

Saving Your Own Water

First of all, saving your own water is a good idea although a couple of small water butts won’t keep a large vegetable plot going for very long. If you have your own collected stored water, you can legally use a hosepipe to deliver it to your plot. You can buy electric submersible water pumps if your butts don’t have enough head to give you pressure. (Water Pumps &Water Butts)

Efficient Watering with a Soaker Hose

If you can use a hose then the best way is get the water to the crops is via a soaker or drip hose. These leaky hoses allow water to slowly seep into the ground rather than flooding and running off into areas where the water isn’t needed like paths. They actually work better with the water at low pressure so often direct from the butt. (Soaker Hose)

If you don’t have stored water and are faced with keeping things going with a watering can these tips should help.

Coping with Drought and Hosepipe Ban

Mulching the soil with compost will reduce evaporation so reducing the need to water. The way this works is that water is sucked up through small spaces in the soil to the surface. This is known as capillary action. Breaking the connection with a mulch really does help so long as the mulch isn’t compacted onto the surface.

If you can’t mulch, then hoe to break up the surface of the soil. This will again stop that capillary action aiding evaporation.

Don’t water unless you need to. This might seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often people water when there is absolutely no need to. Check by sticking your finger into the soil or scraping off the surface soil with a trowel. Often it’s quite damp a few inches down. (See my video here: Efficient Watering)

When you do need to water, water thoroughly. Light sprinkling and often will only wet the surface of the soil so the plant roots head up for the water and are very vulnerable to heat and hoeing. Much better to water properly every 3 or 4 days.

Use a rose as the thin streams will soak into the soil better than just pouring, If water starts to run off, water further down the row and then come back and water again.

It’s easier to carry two full cans than one. You’re more balanced. You can pick up cheap plastic watering cans for a couple of pounds or less in lots of stores.

If your water supply is a long way from the crops, then invest in another couple of cans and you can take your filled cans down to the crop in a wheelbarrow.

And if all else fails – pray for rain!


Hosepipe Bans Due on April 5th

 March 12th, 2012

Seven water companies in southern and eastern England have said they will impose water restrictions after two very dry winters have left reservoirs, aquifers and rivers below normal levels.

Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East will enforce hosepipe bans.

All except Sutton and East Surrey and Anglian Water have said restrictions will start on April 5th.

“East Anglia and south east England are in drought. Parts of central England, south west England and south east Yorkshire continue to be affected by dry weather. It’s anticipated that the risk of drought in the spring and summer in these areas is high.” – Says the Environment Agency.

The area now under official drought is slowly rising north and it’s expected parts of Yorkshire may be included soon.

Many reservoirs in the southern half of England are currently below half of their normal levels for this time of year. However, further north many reservoirs are overflowing, bringing up the old question of why stocks can’t be moved south during times like this.

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