11 ways to save wa­ter

11 ways to save wa­ter in the gar­den

Go Gardening - - Editorial / Contents -

Much of New Zealand has bro­ken weather records this sum­mer. High tem­per­a­tures have com­bined with low rain­fall. Mean­while, South Africa’s Capetown may be the first city in the world to run out of wa­ter, pre­dicted to hap­pen on April 12 if rain­fall doesn’t in­ter­vene in time. In light of such weather ex­tremes we are re­minded not to take for granted our most pre­cious com­mod­ity.

With wa­ter re­stric­tions for those on town sup­ply and noth­ing much com­ing from the heav­ens for those de­pen­dent on rain wa­ter tanks, what can we do to get through the big dry? How can gar­den­ers get the most out of every pre­cious drop?

Sally Brown from Blue­skin Nurs­eries in Dunedin has some tips.

1

Cover any bare soil on gar­den beds with a thick layer of mulch (or com­post) as a ‘blan­ket’ to block soil mois­ture loss. Adding or­ganic mulch and com­post to your soil im­proves its spongy struc­ture and hence its abil­ity to hold wa­ter for plants. Us­ing a (weed-free) mulch has the added ad­van­tage of cut­ting down on weeds, which are of course wa­ter robbers in their own right.

2

Hand wa­ter! It’s time­con­sum­ing but this re­lax­ing task is far more ef­fi­cient than wa­ter­ing by sprin­kler where wind and heat can evap­o­rate a large pro­por­tion and wa­ter isn’t nec­es­sar­ily reach­ing the root zone where it falls. Make hand wa­ter­ing a plea­sure by in­vest­ing in a com­fort­able wa­ter­ing wand with dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tion op­tions. 3 Use a wet­ting agent such as Sat­u­raid to help plants in con­tain­ers stay moist for longer. Sat­u­raid is re­ported to re­duce wa­ter re­quire­ments by up to 50% for plants, pro­mot­ing even wa­ter dis­tri­bu­tion to roots and re­duc­ing run off and dry spots when in­cor­po­rated into soil or pot­ting mix. Some bagged pot­ting mixes al­ready in­clude it. Sally says wa­ter re­ten­tion gran­ules are also use­ful to store and re­lease mois­ture to plants.

4

Feed with sea­weed,

es­pe­cially young plants and lawns. Sea­weed is a proven plant tonic, which pro­motes strong root growth and en­hances a plants nat­u­ral re­sis­tance to drought and other stresses. Turn to page 30 to be in to win Thrive Nat­u­ral Sea­weed Hose-on,

a quick and easy pick-me-up for the en­tire gar­den and lawn.

5

Store your own wa­ter. Do you have an op­por­tu­nity to put in ex­tra wa­ter catch­ment tanks? Think ahead, these pat­terns may be with us for years to come so in­vest in wa­ter stor­age where you can.

6

Wa­ter deeply every few days rather than light wa­ter­ing every day. Deep wa­ter­ing en­cour­ages roots to grow deeper into the soil where more wa­ter is stored and your plants will be­come more drought re­sis­tant as a con­se­quence.

7

Use grey wa­ter where you can. An av­er­age load of wash­ing can pro­duce sev­eral buck­ets of wa­ter, per­fectly good for shar­ing with plants and the soapy wa­ter can help to de­ter in­sects and aphids from your veg­eta­bles.

8

Group pots to­gether for eas­ier wa­ter­ing. This way they will shel­ter each other from dry­ing wind and sun. If pos­si­ble, place pots and hang­ing bas­kets where they are shel­tered from wind.

9

Wa­ter in the early

morn­ing, the evening, or when the tem­per­a­tures are lower, to re­duce wa­ter losses from evap­o­ra­tion.

10

Ap­ply wa­ter di­rectly

to the root zone where it is needed. Wa­ter­ing fo­liage is waste­ful and serves only to in­vite dis­ease.

11

Choose mainly drought

tol­er­ant plants, es­pe­cially if you gar­den in a dry cli­mate, and group plants with high wa­ter needs to­gether in one area. Use drought tol­er­ant lawn seed.

In dry Cen­tral Otago Jo Wake­lin plants ex­clu­sively with drought tol­er­ant plants.

TIP Raw mulching ma­te­ri­als like wood chips, saw­dust and bark use soil ni­tro­gen as they de­com­pose. Com­pen­sate for this with fer­tiliser at the time of mulching. Do not use saw­dust from treated tim­ber.

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