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Warm summers have us reaching for the hose or watering can but if you conserve soil moisture it will reduce the need to water. Get it right and you might reel up your hosepipe for good, as Benedict Vanheems explains


Last winter was the driest in 20 years, with many farmers struggling to deliver crops on schedule or to the size, yield or quality demanded. The effect was compounded by a dry spring, with parts of the south receiving just one fifth of average rainfall. The parched weather wasn’t confined to the south; Edinburgh managed a ground-cracking 7% of its typical April showers.

Clearly, during such exceptionally dry conditions our young plants need a bit of help if they are to establish and thrive. Splosh the wet stuff early on and seedlings can put on good, steady growth. But how often you water after this depends on your soil’s resilience to dry weather – and this is where you come in.

The advice that follows will improve your soil’s ability to both retain moisture in dry weather and drain any excess during prolonged downpours, buffering it against both extremes.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

Kitchen Garden is Britain's best guide to growing your own. It offers advice from the finest minds in gardening to make sure you get the tastiest produce from your plot.