Water and Allotments

Making efficient use of this scarce resource

By Melanie Matthews

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Water and Allotments' page

Water and allotments

As the dry weather looks set to continue into the summer, allotment holders need to consider how they might use water on-site to best effect. Please ensure that water supplies are shared fairly with other tenants. This spring several site reps have had complaints from tenants about people using standpipes selfishly.

When do I water?  Look for times when your site is not too busy as water pressure will be better and you can have more time at the tap. Late evening watering is always best as this allows the maximum time for crops to take up moisture and reduces water evaporation.

How long do I water?  Whenever you can - use a watering can and fill up from a water butt. If you are using a hosepipe then please use it sparingly and restrict your usage so other allotment holders can share access to the standpipe. If there are other plot holders waiting to use a standpipe please restrict your use to around 20 – 30 minutes. We have had warnings that tenants monopolising standpipes may be put on Notice.

Cultivation techniques for water conservation.   Many crops including marrow, potato, tomato and sweet corn, can be mulched around with dried grass clippings, straw or leaf mould, this will help lock-in soil moisture, reduce the need for watering and increase yields.

Think about future crops  and planning ahead. Perennial crops such as bush fruit (with a deep mulch) can provide high value crops with minimal watering. Given that this is our second dry spring in two years water conservation is becoming essential. Fit guttering and a water butt to your shed and use this when taps are in use and you are in a hurry.

Message from the allotments service:

"The allotments service has made every effort to ensure water supplies remain up-and-running throughout the dry months and this work will continue.  However allotment sites only have so many standpipes to go around and their numbers are restricted due to both the size of the water main and the water pressure available. Putting more standpipes on site is often not a realistic option.

If the dry weather continues then allowance for the exceptional weather will be made during the summer and autumn site inspections.  Where cropping has been avoided in preference for mulching or weed suppressing matting, this will be allowed for a proportion (but not all) of the allotment plot. However a simple ‘no show’, will be taken as non-cultivation and notices will be issued. In short the ‘use it or lose it’, policy will continue. So if you want to keep your allotment plot but are struggling to grow crops please keep cultivating and grow crops in a reduced area. Also please let your site representative know that this is why you are reducing your cultivation so that we can take this into account when we inspect."

 

This page was added by Melanie Matthews on 12/06/2011.