Cheap but not nasty; deep straw mulches save me work

I live in what is reputedly the driest village in Great Britain. East Anglia supposedly gets 24 inches of rain a year, mostly falling during winter and Bank holidays, in my garden I've measured a scanty 16-20 inches most years. Although I make every effort to save and store my rain and have a shallow ground-water well I never have enough water. Irrigating my greenhouse and polytunnel crops and watering plants in containers obviously takes priority, so a recurring problem has been summer water shortages which have restricted the yields of open ground crops.

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