Real Men Sow

Allotment Do’s and Don’ts in the Rain

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Well, that’s been a wet couple of weeks.

The rain has certainly helped to boost my veg plants. I’m always amazed by the positive effect a few days of rain has on the allotment and veg patch.

It is worth giving some thought to how we use the rain. Here are my Rain Allotment Do’s and Don’ts.

Do Plant out seedlings
Try and check the weather forecast beforehand, and plant out seedlings just before the rain comes. Watering is great, but nothing beats proper, steady rain to help seedlings heal in. My friend Sarah, who runs a brilliant organic vegetable farm once told me this is called ‘beating the weather’.

Do Get a Water Butt
Water butts are tremendous. I’ve got a couple in my garden, linked to guttering, and I barely need to use my tap. Plants prefer rain water, so there’s another bonus of harvesting rain to use another day.

If you can’t find a freebie on FreeCycle or the like, a new one will set you back about £20, but a worthy investment in my humble opinion.

Make sure you secure it properly though, as a full water butt is incredibly heavy and not something you want falling over…

Do Make Self Water Systems.
There are a few other ways of catching the rain and using it on the plot. Try cutting plastic bottles in half and pushing the top half neck first into the soil next to your bigger plants, such as tomatoes and squashes.

Push the bottle down so that it is level with the soil, and then the water will gather in the vessel and gently work through the next to the plant. Hey presto, a simple self-watering system.

Do Get a Greenhouse
Having a greenhouse on your plot is brilliant, and not just because of all the extra crops you can grow. A greenhouse is a wonderful place to be in the rain – you can still potter in the dry about whilst listening to the lovely sound of rain patter outside.

Don’t dig
Rain will make the soil heavier, particular if it is clay based, so if the weather is wet leave the digging for another day. The job will become a slog and you’ll end up aching. The key to digging is little and often, when the soil is easy to work – i.e. after a few days of dry weather.

Don’t Overestimate the rain
A decent downpour will cheer everything up and get water where the plants need it, but don’t overestimate showers or light rain during summer. Soil can become rock solid in the warmer months, which will often mean quick showers have no real effect on plants. You might need to water even though there has been some rain.

This is even more relevant if you’re growing in pots. They dry out super fast, even when the rainfall has been heavy.

Don’t Let the Rain Get You Down
I know, rain is miserable (you’re talking to a mountain biker here, I get very depressed about soggy trails…), and ruins camping trips and generally leads everyone into beating a hasty retreat inside, but don’t let it get you down.

Just think how much good a downpour is doing the veggies. As my mum always says, you can’t beat a lovely drop of rain.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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