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Sustainable watering: How to Conserve Water in the Vegetable Garden

Written by Sarah Talbot

Today, we're going to delve into the world of sustainable gardening in particular sustainable watering.  We will explore how we can water our gardens while minimising water usage. Water is a precious resource, and with growing concerns about water scarcity, it's essential that we all do our part to conserve water. By adopting some simple practices, we can keep our plants healthy, save water, and nurture a more sustainable garden. So let's take a look!

The Best time to Water the Garden

close up of plants in soil being watered with watering can

Watering in the Morning - its the ideal time

One of the keys to efficient watering is choosing the right time of day to hydrate your plants. The best time to water your vegetable garden is in the morning, preferably before the sun is at its peak. Watering in the early morning allows plants to absorb moisture and nutrients before the heat of the day evaporates it. This also helps to prevent disease, as wet foliage left overnight can be susceptible to fungal growth. Watering in the morning ensures your plants have enough moisture to thrive throughout the day.

How to water to deter Garden Pests

Another plus point is that if you water in the evening it leaves the ground moist/  This makes it easier for slugs and snails to move about and speeding up their journey to your crops! So water in the morning to make the life of garden pests that little bit harder.

Should We Water Lawns?

Lawns can be a contentious topic when it comes to water usage. While it's true that maintaining a lush, green lawn requires a significant amount of water, there are ways to strike a balance between conservation and enjoying your outdoor space.

Click through to see our tips for keepign your lawn watered and discover how real and fake lawns compare in terms of sustainabilty. How can i make my lawn more sustainable?

How to Plant Drought resistant Vegetables 

One way to conserve water in the vegetable garden is to plant crops that are drought resistant.  The key is usually a deep root system that draws water from lower soil layers. 

Couple this with using shade protection like the Easy Net Tunnel or growing inside a Grower Frame to double your chances of conserving water. 

Here are our top five suggestions: 

Swiss chard growing in a Haxnicks vegetable planter

Swiss Chard:

Swiss chard is an excellent choice for a drought-resistant vegetable. This leafy green thrives in hot and dry conditions and can tolerate periods of limited water supply. Its vibrant leaves provide a nutritious addition to salads, stir-fries, and soups.


Okra, also known as lady's finger, is a heat-loving vegetable that copes well with dry conditions. Its large, tropical-like leaves help shade the soil, reducing evaporation. Harvest the tender pods when they are young and enjoy them in stews, curries, or even pickled.

Aubergine (Eggplant)

Eggplants are not only versatile in the kitchen but also surprisingly drought-tolerant. These heat-loving plants thrive in full sun and require minimal watering once established. They have the ability to conserve moisture within their thick leaves, which reduces water loss. From classic dishes like eggplant Parmesan to grilled eggplant slices, these vegetables offer a range of culinary possibilities.

Courgettes (zucchini)

Flowering Courgette plant in grower frame plant house

Zucchini, a popular summer squash, is known for its rapid growth and abundant yields. It is an excellent choice for water-wise gardening due to its deep root system. Once zucchini plants are established, they require infrequent watering. Enjoy these versatile vegetables in soups, stews, stir-fries, or as a tasty addition to grilled kebabs.

Drought-Tolerant Tomatoes:

If you must grow tomatoes (and of course you must!) then pick a drought resistant variety. Tomatoes typically require consistent moisture but some varieties have adapted to drier conditions. Look for varieties, such as 'Sun Gold' or 'Roma,' which have developed to conserve water and tolerate dry spells. While they still benefit from regular watering, these varieties can handle a bit of neglect without sacrificing fruit production or ending up with Blossom End Rot.

How to Water your Garden During a Hose Pipe Ban: Innovative Solutions

The first thing to say is that yalthough hoses are convenient, you are always going to use less water with a watering can than a hose so worth trying to use one where practical. During periods of drought or hose pipe bans, it's crucial to find alternative methods to keep your vegetable garden watered without breaking the rules. Here are a few ideas:

Water butt between a garden shed and a raised bed vegetable garden

Use a Water Butt

Collecting rainwater is an excellent way to reduce water consumption. Set up a water butt to capture water from your roof gutters, and use it to water your lawn during dry periods.

Install Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to the roots of plants, minimizing water waste. These systems can often be exempt from hose pipe bans since they are highly efficient.

Use an Ollas

An Ollas is a clay pot used for irrigation. Bury it neck deep in the ground and fill with water to supply water to surrounding plants. Its an ancient method that still works today. Perfect if you are going away for a day or two but have a little practice with them before you go so you understand how thirsty your plants are and how long they will last. 

Utilise Greywater

Greywater is lightly used water from sources such as showers, baths, or washing machines. With proper filtration and minimal chemicals, greywater can be safely used to water plants during restrictions.
Top Tip: pop a bucket under the shower when running it to get it hot and use the water for your plants.  You'd be surprised how much you waste each morning!

Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Hands in gardening gloves full of mulch and more mulch spread on the ground beside vegetable plants

Applying a layer of organic mulch around your plants helps retain soil moisture, reduces evaporation, and keeps roots cool. Mulching can significantly reduce the frequency of watering, making it an effective technique during water restrictions.

We hope this has helped you think more about sustainable watering. By implementing these sustainable watering practices, we can make a significant difference in conserving water while still maintaining healthy and thriving vegetable gardens. Remember to water in the morning, consider alternatives to lawns, and get creative during hose pipe bans.



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