The day of the Queen’s coronation was cold, wet, and windy. I was four years old and in an old black and white photograph taken at a street party, I was wearing my winter coat and no doubt my mother would have made me wear a liberty bodice with a piece of red flannel as I had a “weak chest”.

Rationing for most food had been in force for twelve years, except fish, bread, and vegetables. Apples and oranges were scarce, shopkeepers tried to save them for children and pregnant women. Imports of fruit, such as bananas and lemons were unobtainable. As an example, a weekly allowance of loose tea was approximately 2 oz (57 g) and sugar 8 oz (227 g), you were allowed one fresh egg or one packet of powered egg. Clothing was also rationed, to buy a coat would have cost a year’s worth of the stamps in your ration book.

No wonder our forebears who tended an allotment here threw their efforts into the Dig for Victory campaign.

Watering Wisely

First, you need to ensure that precious water is not wasted on bare soil, so mulch round your plants as you plant or sow. Black plastic makes a good mulch and weed suppressant, and if you do not want to spend money on big sheets of plastic, you can use black dustbin bags. Pin them down with U-shapes cut from coat hangers, then just cut a cross where you want a plant to go. Alternatively, fill a bottle with water and put a corner of the plastic over the neck before putting the cap back on then just rest the bottle on top of the plastic.

To make sure the water gets straight to the plant roots, save plastic drink bottles, cut off the bottom, take off the lid and place them close to the individual plants (or in between two plants) holding them in place with a thin stick down through the bottle into the soil. Then when it is time to water, just fill the bottle and leave it to sink down. In hot weather it is best to water in the evening so the plants can soak up their drink when it is cool.

Another way to give water to specific plants is to fill a plastic bag with water, tie the top tightly and attach it to a stick, then make a tiny hole in the bottom of the bag so the water seeps out slowly. You can also buy watering spikes to fit on plastic bottles – fill the bottle with water, add the spike and push it into the ground next to the plant. You may need to loosen the spike a little to make sure the water flows properly – watch for bubbles rising as the water soaks down.

With any of these methods, you can add liquid manure to the bottle or bag as needed.

This piece was written by Janet MacDonald who was always good at innovative ideas. I thought it worth repeating to help you all conserve water.

Also see our web page giving advice on watering.

The National Flower of Ukraine – The Sunflower

We want to encourage you to sow some sunflower seeds in your garden or on your plots. The polytunnel team are keen to assist you in this so therefore we will be having sunflower plants ready for sale in the late spring. The trading centre will also be selling packets of sunflower seeds. Let us show the Ukraine people our support.