We have already seen a prolonged period of very dry, very warm weather across most parts of the United Kingdom. This period of hot weather through July was the first prolonged heat wave seen in the country since 2006. This came as a welcome relief to many people – especially given the fact that the start of summer looked rather bleak. However the heat wave has brought problems of its own. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has calculated that as many as between 540 and 760 extra deaths in England may have been as a direct consequence of the hot humid conditions. The warm conditions were also linked to grass fires in Epping Forest and in Scotland. The conditions can also cause particular headaches for gardeners. Hot dry weather can cause irreparable damage to certain types of plants and foliage. What’s more, although it seems we are likely to be looking at a temporary reprieve in the form of thunderstorms, we could nevertheless be faced with the possibility of a hosepipe ban.
For gardeners, an element of planning is generally a good idea. Howard Macpherson is one of those gardeners who are always prepared for this type of scenario. The problem lays not so much in the fact that we have a shortage of water in the country. The difficulty is that peak demand generally occurs precisely at the times when reservoir supplies are at their lowest. To combat this, it is a very good idea for gardeners to build up their own ‘mini-reservoirs’ during the rest of the year in the form of water butts. Hosepipe bans are enforced with predictable regularity in certain parts of the country – notably the South East and the Midlands. Gardeners in these areas ought to give particular consideration to water storage options. In fact, even in those areas were hosepipe bans are very rare, investing in a water butt will certainly make economic sense if a water meter is installed at the property. Howard Macpherson also takes care to properly treat his soil to combat the possible effects of drought. Cultivating the soil deeply as well as digging in relatively large amounts of organic matter to improve soil structure is the best way of achieving this. This has the effect of significantly improving water retention in the soil.