Water shortage

This was the result of last years dry spring – peas that dried out before I even had a chance to harvest them:

This spring is looking very much the same. The sunny weather is glorious, but we really do need those April showers right now. I’m down to a third (probably less) of one water butt which I’m saving for all the crops I need to plant out over the next few weeks. Anything already established will have to fend for itself. It’s not like we had masses of rain through February and March either, so the ground is dryer than ever.

There was talk last year of the council providing us with a water supply, but typically it never materialised and probably never will now that their budgets have been cut. I feel for the farmers right now – our winters have become colder than usual, springs drier and summers wetter, all of which have a detrimental effect on plants.

At times like this you have to prioritise, and for me that means anything young, vulnerable or newly planted gets the water. However, it is worth noting which crops need the water and which don’t, and maybe if this is the way our climate is going to go, those of us with a short supply of water will have to consider carefully what we choose to grow in future? This list below is from the NSALG  (National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardeners):

Carrot  Never water, it will lower yield and affect taste
Jerusalem Artichoke  Never water, it encourages the formation of leaves and not tubers
Parsnips, Swedes,  No beneficial effects from watering
Onions  In a very dry season, water the ground before planting to get your sets off to a good start
Turnip  In a dry year, flood the bed about a month before harvest
Cauliflower (winter),cabbage, calabrese  If the soil is very dry, puddle in to help them get established
Potato (main crop)  Water only when the flowers have just opened -at any other time it will lower the yield
Spinach  Regular watering will extend harvest
Potato (early)  Regular watering will extend harvest
Tomato (outdoor)  Regular watering will increase yield but may reduce flavour
Cucumber  Water through growing season to improve both yield and taste
Courgette, Marrow  Water when fruits start to swell, then water copiously
Leek  The more you water the bigger the crop.
Lettuce  Water from sowing to harvest, encouraging rapid tender growth
Spring Onion  Once you start to water you can not stop!
Cauliflower (summer)  Continuous watering to stop plants running to seed
Peas  Water throughout the life of this crop
Runner Beans  Continuous watering and crop may still fail
Celery  Huge volumes of water required
Chinese Cabbage  Any shortage of water will cause it to fail and run to seed
Sweetcorn  Watering when plants are young and the earth is dry can increase yields

I think next year I might ditch the peas, lettuce, cucumber and courgettes (grow these at home) and fill the allotment with f-artichokes.

Hope this is helpful. Please let it rain – after the bank holidays, or at night!


  1. It’s interesting you mention carrots do not need watering. I thought anything that grew under the surface needed a lot of water. ha ha…so I’ve not been growing them through the summer, in fact any root veg as we may not get any rain for several months.

    Someone in Canada suggested grow things in squares rather than lines to preseve water…I thought this was a brilliant idea. Have you tried it?



  2. Yeah, confess I don’t buy their carrot advice either. I think watering carrots is essential – esp when they’re young. On sandy soil (carrots’ favorite), seedlings die in dry Springs without water!


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