Gardeners told to fill their water butts and prepare for a scorching summer that could rival 1976
Sarah Knapton The daily Telegraph today is predicting a hot summer as the last time we had warm conditions in February was in 1976 when we had a scorching summer. I remember it well as we were growing runner beans on a very small plot. We used spent bath water on them as there was a hose pipe ban! Here is the article but I liked the tips that they supplied,
' How to Make the Most of a dry spell-
1. Apply a layer of mulch to insulate plant roots againsy colder nights 2,Wrap horicultural fleece around early blooms 3.Bring early blooming pot plants into the house on frosty nights 4.Consider covering green houses so that saplings don't get too much sunshine 5.Plant cabbage. carrots and lettuce seeds to benefit from an early harvest.
BRITAIN recorded its warmest winter day ever yesterday as temperatures tipped over 69F (20C) in Wales, the Met Office confirmed.
The mercury at Trawsgoed in Ceredigion, west Wales, reached 69.08F (20.6C), which had earlier set a new record of 68.5F (20.3C) for the warmest February day since meteorologists started monitoring temperatures. The Met Office said three sites exceeded 20C, and some places had around 10 hours of sunshine. Gardeners were encouraged to get vegetables into the ground so they could enjoy an early harvest in June, rather than waiting until late July.
But Monty Don, the gardening expert and presenter, warned gardeners to start filling up water butts because the weather was giving all the signs that an unusually hot summer was approaching. “The last time I remember a spell of February weather like this was in 1976,” he said. “If we are going to have a summer like that one, start storing your rainwater now.”
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) warned that delicate trees such as magnolia, and plants like camellias and hydrangeas, could become “nipped and scorched” if caught by frosts when they had just come into bloom. And those growing saplings in greenhouses were warned to cover the glass and open windows in the day to avoid the large temperature fluctuations of unusually hot days and chilly winter nights.
Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the RHS, said: “This week is going to be a bit of a wake-up call for gardeners, particularly as it looks like this hot snap will be replaced by wet and windy weather which could leave plants that have just started to bloom at their most vulnerable. One thing saplings in greenhouses hate is fluctuating temperatures … so it’s a good idea to cover the plants in one or two layers of felt. And if you’ve got potted plants like camellias, it’s worth taking them inside at night.”
The premature hot spell has seen a host of early reports of brimstone butterflies and bumblebees. Yesterday’s high beat the previous record of 67.4F (19.7C) in Greenwich in 1998.
Much of Britain received less than half of its typical rainfall in January, leading to fears of drought in the summer because reservoirs have not refilled sufficiently.
Janet Manning, water management specialist at the RHS, said: “Thinking about what you can do in your garden now to help see your plot through a dry summer is advisable. Gardeners can consider trialling Mediterranean varieties such as rock rose and rosemary which can withstand drier summers better than some traditional options.”
MULCHING IS A MUST
As suggested mulching is one of the key benefits for protecting roots from cold but most importantly for retaining mositure around plants in dry spells. Water evaporation is greatly reduced when you do water too. Strulch Garden Mulch was develoiped with this in mind and the benefits to plant hesalth have been mentioned by many professional gardeners over the years. Our latest advatorial in the RHS The Garden Magazine March edition, contains direct quotations from The Trials Officer at RHS Wisley,from the Head Gardener at The Alnwick Garden and from a Garden Consultant. Early Spring is a great time to mulch before the germination of weed seedlings. The good weather will encourage them too so get mulching.