Watering and Feeding
We live in the South East of the UK and rainfall has diminished over the years. Adding water retentive element such as compost, worm castings and mulching will all help with keeping plants hydrated.
It is also important to try to water early in the morning or late in the evening to minimise evaporation. I prefer early in the morning as watering in the evening can lead to problems with mildew.
Selecting plants that are drought tolerant and seed saving where the plants will adapt to your conditions will help if you live in an area with little rainfall.
Our Parish Council does not allow sheds on our allotments (yes I know - it is unbelievable) but if you have a shed don't forget to add a gutter and water butt.
If you are growing food at home water from baths and sinks, grey water, can be collected but be careful that you are only using soap or washing up liquid made from natural ingredients.
Use water from cooking. Nutrients leach in to the cooking water from your food. Calcium rich water from boiled eggs can be given to tomatoes and peppers. Iron rich water from greens. Potato and pasta water is also good for the garden if you don't put salt in.
Liquid Feed can be made easily from manure, worm wee, Bokashi juice, nettles there are plenty of variations to suit your plants needs. They don't go off, however Bokashi should be used quickly, but are very smelly from the start. Liquid feed can be stored in a cool dark place to avoid algae growth in the container.
Making Liquid Feed
Once made the plant material can be added to the compost heap so nothing is wasted.
In a natural cloth put torn comfrey, or nettles, gather up the cloth and tie with string. Place in a large bucket and tie it to a stick balanced across the stop. Fill with rainwater. Every week for two weeks lift up the bundle and stir the water. Decant into storage containers.
Comfrey is a brilliant plant to grow for making liquid feeds as a compost accelerant, in the bottom of a planting trench, to deter slugs, to add to leaf mould heaps or for mulching around potatoes, tomatoes, gooseberry or blackcurrant bushes. Use Bocking 14 as it is infertile and does not seed. Like horseradish it is difficult to eradicate so be careful where you site it.
This smells dreadful but contains nitrogen phosphorus and potassium. There are two ways to make the liquid feed.
Ready to use comfrey liquid feed
Comfrey leaves added to a bucket of water 1kg of leaves to 15 litres of water will decompose to a smelly brown liquid ready to use after 4 - 6 weeks.
The comfrey leaves are compressed with a weight until a dark brown/black liquid is collected. It is slightly less smelly than the ready to use feed. The darker the comfrey liquid the stronger so dilute 20:1 but no less than 10:1
Bananas have high quantities of potassium, calcium and phosphorus. The chopped peel can be dug in around young apple tree roots. Banana peel tea is particularly beneficial to lettuce and tomatoes.
Use two chopped organic banana skins in 1 litre of water use rainwater or water that has been left to dechlorinate. Leave for a couple of days and strain out the skins.