As growers of a good many crops, including turf, Meadowmat, Enviromat, potatoes, and combinable crops, Harrowden have a good understanding of water saving farming, gardening and lawn care.
Water is essential in the production of food and soft landscaping materials. It’s also a precious resource that doesn’t come cheap and needs careful management.
Two reasons for managing our water
Economy: If it doesn’t rain when our crops need it to, we have the ability (as many farmers do) to extract water from drainage ditches, rivers and underground boreholes. We need a licence to so so and there is a cost to every single litre. In the case of food crops, that cost comes out of our profit margin. With the ornamentals, we have to decide whether to build irrigation costs into the price of the product or whether to bear the costs as a company. Usually, it’s the second option.
The second reason for wanting to manage water is environmental. We know that water is recycled by nature. You and I are still drinking the same water that sustained the dinosaurs – but interfering with the natural water cycle is unhelpful to wildlife and to the local environment. Our aim is to have minimal environmental impact with all that we do.
It stands to reason that we only irrigate crops when absolutely necessary. We’re not in the habit of sprinkling water around willy-nilly.
Where we can, we collect water in huge reservoirs during periods of high rainfall. We can then use it as a resource during the summer months. As an aside, it’s interesting to see how the reservoirs have settled into the landscape over the years and been adopted by wildlife. Goodness only knows how the fish got into them – but they did. They are also inhabited by several species of wild duck. They are visited by birds and small mammals and populated by dragonfly, damsel fly and aquatic plants.
Irrigators are rarely used during the heat of the day. Instead they are switched on in the evening and moved around the field during the night. That way the water gets to soak into the soil before it can be evaporated by the sun.
High tech irrigators are more efficient and waste less water. They cost more to buy and it takes longer to place the pipes – but hey-ho it’s all in a good cause.
The bill for watering our developing lawns (aka turf fields) is quite considerable. As a lawn owner, you too will be billed for watering your lawn. So, to avoid wasting this precious resource and running up a big bill – here are our top 5 tips for waterwise lawn care.
Mulch around shrubs, herbaceous plants, trees, fruit and vegetables. You’ll find it prevents around 80% of water evaporation from the soil. Bark mulch is attractive and inexpensive.
Collect rainwater from roofs etc. Water buts are great and they are the gardeners’ equivalent to our reservoirs – although you may not get whole flocks of geese swimming in yours. Clever gardeners can also collect runoff from decks and patios and redirect it into ponds, bog gardens etc.
Choose drought tolerant plants. Alpines are super, as are Mediterranean herbs such as lavender and rosemary, sage and thyme.
Use water retaining granules in pots and hanging baskets.
If you need to water plants – do it when the sun is low in the sky. Early morning or late evening is best. Use a watering can rather than a sprinkler – you’ll be able to direct water to exactly where it’s needed AND you won’t be inclined to use any more than you need to.
Enjoy your garden but be conscious of how important it is in the big scheme of things. You may think that watering your patch of grass won’t make any difference to the planet but it will. It really will.