Drought: Are you suffering?

I can’t believe I’m already moaning about lack of rain. Jeez, it’s only April.

Reviewing my last few years of posting, I notice that the rain theme runs through my blog like shit through sewers. I whinge about it endlessly. Too much rain, too little rain, wrong sort of rain… you name it, I’m boring for Britain about it.

But the overriding leitmotif is drought. ‘We need rain’ is my nagging, plaintive refrain. There’s never enough.

This has worsened in the last 2-3 years. When I first started my vegetable plot, 6 years ago, drought wasn’t an issue. We had dry weeks, sure. Even the odd fortnight of sunshine. But never months on end without rain.

Nowadays I expect drought. It’s an annual event – usually bad, sometimes serious. Last year, I counted 140 days without rain from early March. This year, the pattern’s repeating.

Two swallows do not a summer make… but obviously I suspect global warming. I live in a dry part of the UK, so I guess we’d see the effects here first. I’m certainly feeling them. They’re making my gardening painful.

The weird thing is that I’m almost alone in noticing this. The folks who surround me every day, with rare exceptions, are urban office workers (as, indeed, am I). They have no connection to gardening, or farming, or anything much that depends upon the weather.

When I moan about lack of rain, they listen politely. Most nod kindly, perhaps offering a ‘Really? Wow, I hadn’t noticed’.

But mostly they just stare at me suspiciously. Their thoughts are clear: “Poor bastard. Spends too much time with his marrows. He’s lost it utterly.”

Please, please reassure me that I’ve not lost it utterly. Obviously if you live in Wales or Scotland, you – like my colleagues – will be wondering what the fuck I’m going on about.

But is anyone else suffering the drought nightmare?

12 Responses to “Drought: Are you suffering?”

  1. James Bartlett Says:

    This is my first year allotmenting and I’m getting worried about how I’m going to actually get enough water on my plants. The soil is already bone dry on the surface. Still, hopefully it will mean fewer slugs!!

  2. Cazaux Says:

    Far from it SM.

    We had two minutes of rain yesterday. But expecting more tomorrow which coincides with the day I had booked off from work.

    Even the local corn growers have resorted to soaking their crops in April.

    Hopepipe bans by June at this rate.

  3. TOM Says:

    Hi Soilman
    We have London Clay here (in Hertfordshire) so it is either like the Somme or Kansas in the ’30s. We have definitely noticed the lack of rain in Spring and summer but we seem to get more in the autumn and late winter than previously.
    To be boringly on the topic of allotment keeping I have noticed that the more you ‘cut’ the clay with organic matter, (compost, rotted manure, leaves etc.) the less volatile the water content is.

  4. Rachael Says:

    Yes it’s been very dry here and we have had 3 very dry springs in a row, this year it’s started even earlier. There is rain forecast for tomorrow though… I’ve only just set up my water butt since we moved and so far there is a mere dribble in the bottom. Trouble is, once it starts, it often doesn’t know when to stop…

  5. coffee and apple pie Says:

    Hey SM – long time no blog!
    My plot is bone dry and I’m OOp north!

    And we had a bit of rain the other day, but nothing to speak of, but I had to water my onion sets and strawberrys as they were all looking sorrowful, and screaming obsenities as i walked past! Evil woman what I am!

    Went to plant some bean seeds too, and was a bit worried at how dusty the soil was….

    So yes, I too am suffering…..

  6. Gwenfar's Lottie Says:

    I think there are lots of us with you Soilman. I was just chatting to my partner last night about the fact my water butts are nearly empty and the lottie is bone dry. We are now having to do the ‘watering can shuffle’ to/from the water tank to our plot. Bloody hard work!

  7. Glittertrash Says:

    Oh, Soilman. Being from Australia and witnessing the constant, unrelenting chaos of our flood/drought cycles becoming much more intense and unpredictable over the past few years, I have no doubt at all that human-initiated climate change is a reality that is alternately baking and washing away fertile topsoils around the world. I’m sad to hear that the effects are showing up in the UK now too. I can only suggest checking out a bunch of Australian veggie garden blogs for drought-resistant gardening techniques- you can probably still grow everything, but if it’s been going on for a few years now then it must be worth investigating some gardening practices evolved specifically for drought/water-crisis situations.

  8. Soilman Says:

    Thanks for support, all. Glad I’m not losing my marbles and imagining this.

    I’m heading to the web Down Under for tips on growing veg in a hot, dry climate!

  9. Tanya Walton Says:

    Well my allotment is dry on top but there is still plenty of moisture beneath the ground…I remember having droughts when I was a kid, in fact in my teen years when my friend visited for a few years running from Sweden she thought that England being green was a myth as there was no grass anywhere…it was only when the next time she came over in April she realised that there was truth to Anne of Green Gables..lol. So I get your point on not having much rain but to be honest I don’t think we have hit drought conditions and I haven’t had to water my plot so I will be happy with whatever we have right now!!

  10. the Manic Gardener Says:

    A HUNDRED AND FORTY DAYS without rain? That’s–that’s a hellofa long time. I’d certainly suspect global warming too, I admit, though from here in Montana I can hardly say whether your rainfall across the pond is normal or not.

  11. Soilman Says:

    It WAS a long time, Kate. There were one or two days with very short passing showers (five mins or so), but all useless for gardeners. It really was amazing. Oddly, places only 5 miles away from me got some decent rain, but it all bypassed my plot entirely.

  12. Simon Says:

    Its kinda dry here (central Germany) too, but not panic stations yet. The only way to really be sure of some rain seems to be to book some time off for allotment stuff. Just booking the leave gets the black clouds gathering. I keep a supply of suncream in the shed, though, just in case.