THIS YEAR nearly half of Europe has suffered drought conditions, and this kind of drizzle-free summer is predicted to be the new normal. We can expect new reservoirs and desalination plants to be built and a programme of pipe replacement to reduce leakage, all of which will increase the price of water. This puts new water butts at the top of the Christmas present list. Water butts can be added to any downpipe on the house, or to garden sheds and garages. A simple plastic connector kit, costing less than £10, can link butts together to increase water storage.
These are very useful for keeping the garden alive, but much more important is improving the water-holding capacity of the soil by increasing its organic content. Mulching in the spring with garden compost or leaf mould is one method, or you could run a bokashi system for your food waste. In other words, DON’T throw all your garden and food waste into the council recycling collection – think about using it in your own garden. There’s a wealth of information and suggestions online; try
Autumn is the time for leaf mould, the simplest of all organic mulches to make. Just collect up the leaves, put them into a chicken wire or wooden cage, or a plastic bag with finger holes in the base, and forget about it for 12 months or so. Even simpler still is to sweep up the leaves on your paths, and rake some off the lawn, and spread them onto the flower beds. Worms will take the leaves down into the soil over the winter and save you all the work.
If your road has street trees, then gather extra supplies from the pavement and keep an eye out for neighbours who are diligently sweeping up the leaves and preparing to empty them into the green waste bin: offer to help them!