If you’re going away it’s important that your plants are well looked after. The size of your plot might dictate that you rely on a helpful friend to keep it well watered, perhaps in exchange for a few free harvests!

If you would like to install an irrigation system it really is straightforward, have a look back at the June issue of Smallholder for a how to guide or read it at smallholder.co.uk/how to.

For your ‘domestic’ pots and plants there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of harm from drought in your absence.

Move baskets and containers out of noon’s direct sun and group together to reduce evaporation and increase humidity. Make sure they’re able to benefit from rain should there be any. Placing them on trays full of gravel or stones topped up with water helps to keep them damp but in any case, make sure all have deep saucers. Give them a really good feed and water before you go.

If you’re worried about hanging baskets, dig bowl shapes into a shady bed and settle the baskets into them.

There are various products that can be bought and homemade methods that effectively drip feed water over a delayed period of time.

For large containers and for particularly important plants in the garden wine bottles are useful. Fill with water and invert, pushing it deep into soil near the roots of the plants you want watered. Do this a couple of times in the same spot until the water stays in the bottle and the remaining water will leach out over a few days as the plants need.

It’s straightforward to create a self-watering system which only needs capillary matting, a bucket and a few bricks.

Fill a bucket of water with water and place on bricks in a shady area. Place your pots and containers around the bucket, making sure that they are at a lower level than the bucket. Put more bricks under the bucket if necessary.

Cut strips of the capillary matting to make the equivalent of a wick for each pot. Drape one end of the matting in the bucket and the other in the compost and water will travel through it to the plants.


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