Water on the Plot

Here on Pig Row the rain is with us filling our water butts to a brimming loveliness. Though we now have water, we need to preserve it with the weather forecasters suggesting a late hot summer. Again the words 'Indian Summer' are being used in a most abusive way, inaccurate, false and in the worse cases, delusional. We on Pig Row will believe when we see it. However, we have some tips and suggestions for water saving over the coming months. A garden is never too small to have a water butt connected to a down pipe or to a shed, porch or greenhouse. A water butt is anything that collects rain water. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it is there to do a job and can be screened with plants. On Pig Row we use ex-food drums, they stank of brine during the first year but are now thankfully, odour free.

I have known gardeners use a variety of vessels to collect rain water from discarded wheelie bins to baths and storage bins. One gardener I knew reused his old back boiler to collect water in, after it was ripped out from behind his fireplace, he took it to his allotment and cut out a side and left it on the plot growing trailing nasturtiums up it. It filled up each autumn and was full throughout summer. In the second year it became a home for frogs. In the third year more back boilers cum water butts appeared on the allotment. Gardeners are not afraid of taking a good idea on board.

If you have the magpie attitude stop off on that great second hand online sales room, EBay (http://www.ebay.co.uk). My ex-food water butts are 6x260 litre drums bought for £60 including delivery. I bought them on the Friday and they were at Pig Row on the Saturday. I do advise you only buy plastic drums from the food industry used in the transportation of pickled vegetables. Do not buy drums used in the transportation of oil or any other chemical, you will never get them clean and the resulting cocktail of liquids coated to the interior of the drum will kill every plant in the garden and could make you ill. This approach to buying drums off EBay is a popular past time on the website and you will find many dealers offering them. On Pig Row I now have six large drums of water to feed the garden for half the price of what I would have paid for water butts from a high street shop. All it took to get them clean was some jeyes fluid, elbow grease and patience. Also, don’t be afraid if you have an allotment and a friend ripping out their bathroom to ask for their bath. Just bung up the plug hole and if you don’t use it as a water butt you can use it to grow blueberries in. They’ll appreciate the depth and coolness of the bath when filled with ericaceous soil.

Never underestimate the water in your bath, referred to as grey water. This can be used to water your plants and there are a number of gadgets to collect this from a full grey water system running to the thousands of pounds to the simple Eco Syphon Pump (http://www.nigelsecostore.com).

Don’t forget the humble watering can, there are some great cans on the market from the high end Haws 8.8 litre Watering Can (http://www.haws.co.uk) to the cheap and cheerful Ward 9 litre Watering Can (http://www.wilkinsonplus.com) or you can go for the real recycling option and buy one from a car boot.