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Burning up in Surrey

Posted by Guy Barter on 01 Jul 2009 at 05:21 PM

Sandy soils in the south-east are very hot and dry now with plants potentially under great stress.  To avoid this watering is being done on a ten day cycle giving a good drenching to really saturate the top 25cm.  Thirsty celery, celeriac and runner beans are done on a five day cycle.  There is no need to water more often, although misguided plot holders water more frequently, their efforts are often in vain or worse due to lack of deep soaking or excessive wetting.

Without sprinklers the easiest way to water is to grow summer crops in shallow trenches and fill these with water.  This gets water to where it is needed, and nowhere else, quickly.

Opportunity is taken to add fertiliser by sprinkling chicken manure pellets along the trenches before watering.  Otherwise a couple of teaspoons of sulphate of ammonia are added to each watering can.

As warm wet soils promote clubroot the brassicas are being left as long as possible, ideally until cooler weather, and will then be watered with a dilute solution of calcium nitrate that will help limit infection as well as boost growth.

Due to rather bad planting and aftercare some of the Brussels sprouts are very up and down and watering and feeding is being used to try and get them all up to the same standard.

Somehow watering never matches rain and a thunderstorm now would be very welcome.

With a steady stream of transplants becoming ready to plant, the trench method is very effective – the transplants are easily placed in the soft, moist soil in the base of the trench and give a few daily waterings until their roots begin to explore the moist fertile soil underneath

On the plus side weeds and weeding are at very low levels and die very well if hoed.  Hoeing is generally followed by leaving uprooted plants to desiccate in the sun for a few days after which their strawy remains can be quickly raked up and composted.  Not pretty and would be deeply frowned on at Wisley, but quick and effective.

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