WRITERS dice with death if we discuss the weather, especially a week before publication. But here goes. Nearly all of Scotland is short of water, with the east, and especially south east, pretty dry. Even the centre of the country, spreading at least as far west as Renfrewshire, is affected. On 23rd June S.E.P.A. wrote: “We advise water users, including those with private water supplies, to be aware of the potential risk of water scarcity this summer.”

So nearly all of us have dry or very dry gardens and this week’s rain will have little effect. Showers or even brief downpours only dampen the surface and we need several days of steady rain to reach plant roots. And cold, drying winds are compounding the felony.

But for once it’s not our fault that that our reluctant plants are growing so slowly and are battered and wind-scorched for good measure. At least that’s how I console myself. An early sowing of pampered broad beans and sugar peas in the polytunnel cropped beautifully and a cosseted courgette is 3 times the size of its mates outside, despite enjoying the same watering regime.

Mulches to conserve water, irrigation systems and plant supports undoubtedly help, but without rain our water butts run dry and we must ration watering. My kitchen garden system relies on the spring overflow, but it’s slowing down alarmingly.

Focus on plants that desperately need a drink. Concentrate on freshly planted shallow-rooted ones, thirsty tomatoes and broad-leaved courgettes and cucumbers. And if you have a lawn sprinkler, leave it in the shed.

Give needy plants a good soak and don’t waste precious supplies by dampening a broader area. Go over a limited patch 2 or 3 times with watering can or hose, as the first application moistens the surface, letting later ones penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Prevent evaporation by covering the soil with organic mulch. If using grass clippings, keep them away from stems to prevent scorching.

Containers also need attention. Warm sun beating on pot sides causes evaporation, so reduce this by grouping pots together. Use plant saucers and if water runs straight through it means the compost may be clapped out. You obviously can’t repot just now, so top dress with fresh compost or leafmould if you have it.

Plant of the week

Foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea, bring height and colour to awkward, rather dry and shady parts of the garden. Naturally occurring in purple, pink and white they can be encouraged to self-seed, saving you the trouble of raising these biennial plants. Don’t cut off the flower stems once all the blooms have faded but allow the seed pods to develop and ripen. Once they start to dry and brown cut the whole stem off at the base and wave it over the bed, shaking out the seeds. Thin out the clumps of seedlings that grow; you can move them when they are still small.