1/3 of plot is water-logged

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lemonstar

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1/3 of plot is water-logged
« on: April 17, 2018, 01:37 »
I dug over and weeded 2/3 of the plot I took over about 5-6 weeks ago but the last 1/3 is water-logged. I dug over about 6square meters (1/3 of the last 1/3) when it wasn't particularly wet. It rained a fair bit on a few nights last week and now the entire last 1/3 is water-logged in the sense that walking over the area I dug over I sink in about a foot and the 2 foot deep unfilled hole I left while part way through digging (before it rained) was filled with 1 foot of water. I don't know what to do with it now. I've read around and some say you can just keep adding manure and leaf mould to it and eventually the microbes will transform the soil so that it drains better. the soil isn't clay - well not on the top 2 spits but when I was paddling around in my wellies when my feet were getting stuck it did look and feel like brown clay - like the type we used in art classes at school when we did pottery. The plot next to me is abandoned and also water-logged at the same end. the plot on the other side of me has bark on top of weed suppressing fabric and raised beds but the people on that plot, I was told, had someone level off the area, build beds and sort out the area for £500 - this was last year sometime but they haven't been back since - no one has seen them in over 6 months. The plot is still a bit water-logged and I can't see how I can even dig it over or try to level it off - I can't imagine what will happen if I bang in some corner posts for raised beds and try and assemble them with some used scaffold planks (£1.06/ft inc. VAT) - then I'll need some weed suppressing fabric... atm it just looks like money I didn't really want to spend - it makes breaking even for the year difficult. Which ever way you look at it there doesn't seem to be a simple solution  - I did start digging a series of trenches that I thought might work like a moat in the hope that the water could drain in to them and leave the beds in between drier but I just wasn't sure it would work and then I'd have to fill the trenches with something - gravel or plastic pipes and gravel or bark - all of which is not going to be cheap. I can get any amount of rotted manure from the local equestrian centre. I also have a bout 1/4 ton of unused "soil improver" left over from some work I was doing at home which I can ferry down and dig in. Maybe I just have to wait and see if and when it dries out but then what?... I 'm just not sure what to do for the best. I'm wondering what I must do so that the next time we have a sustained period of rain the paths where I need to walk and the beds are still viable. What do you reckon? Have I given enough information to help you advise me? The plot is flat and there isn't really a slope that I can direct water down - in any event it would probably just affect someone else. The plot was also unused for the last 12 months - in fact this and the plot next to me were owned by the same person - I have not seen them so I can't ask them about the plot. Maybe I'll wander down the plot tomorrow morning, see who's around who might have faced the same situation - not everyone puts raised beds down for reasons of water-logging. I was told that some plots are affected because 20 years ago a stream was filled in and diverted but water still seems to affect some plots - but I am circumspect about that information as no one seems to know where the stream was originally and in general, from what I can see, the plots down the "bottom end" near he railway line seem to suffer from water-logging more that those plots further away so I don't know if this water-logging is a water table problem or a reflection of bad drainage possibly due to an underlying layer of clay. Really I want to what to do in the next few days - part of me feels like just covering it with a tarp and forgetting about it for the year - I can put my compost heap on it perhaps but probably not the £80 2m x 3m polytunnel I just bought. Before I saw the water-logging I had thought I would bury the polytunnel about a foot under the surface - get the soil outside over the ends of the cover and make use of the soil inside for planting but now I reckon I'd have to put in raised beds to be clear of the water level.

So - any thoughts on the matter would probably be a big help.

cheers
Neil
The rest of you... keep banging the rocks together.

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mumofstig

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 07:55 »
First I'd talk to other plot holders to find out if this is rare, because we've had unusual weather this spring, or if happens every year. I'd also stay off it until it dries out a bit, or you'll just be making the situation worse.
My plot is at the top of a slope, and even here the ground is only just beginning to dry out  :(
Lesley x
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Toosje

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 08:40 »
Since you neighbors have water logged plots as well, it doesn't sound like it is just your plot due to lack of 'keeping'.
If there is clay under your soil, it is possible that, through the years it has formed a new closed off top: you can't see this unless you dig deep.
What I used to do in my old garden (clay) is just dril holes with a hand drill (one of these things for placing poles in the ground). That way you prevent the starting of a layer under your top layer.
At the moment I have a plot beside a big lake. Clay again plus the water level is high. We have a permanent trench around the plot, secured with tiles. I will take a picture when we get there this afternoon. It works really well.

NB: clay can have different colors. I used to have light brown mixed with blueish grey hard clay patches. Now we have sort of dark to black soil because the top layer is mixed. When we dig deep we get to the original old (primal?) clay which is blueish grey again. This clay is much harder than the other ones but the other ones are still very sticky to your shoes and tools.

I would suggest you start with just drilling holes as deep as you can get so the water can sink away. The drills are normally about 1 meter long. Possibly you can borrow a drill if you don't have one yourself. This way you don't have to spend money until you have made up your mind about the best solution.
Then choose a patch and just start digging, at least 1 meter deep to find out what is beneath. The history of the place could also tell you something about the composition of you soil. If there has been a time that the top layer has been dug off and garden soil has been dropped: the administration of your plots will know this. So there are several ways to get some security about what to do without digging in your purse.
Mixing the top layer with other (fertile) soil or manure is good for your top layer, but will not help the drainage if a second layer has formed underneath.
Since your need to divide your plot in patches anyway, choose a group that can handle some water on the wet spot this year: strawberries, pumpkins, cucumbers, rhubarb, pickles, zucchini.. and build around that.

Good luck!

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snowdrops

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 13:23 »
Perhaps find out if the  plot that was landscaped is coming up to be relet & consider swapping. Look at no dig gardening Charles Dowding for how he recommends gardening on clay

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ilan

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 19:57 »
You can trench and furrow it in effect making small raised beds 12 -18 ins wide with sloping sides  and plant on the ridge or make simple raised beds using the farm yard manure do not bother with the scaffold boards just slope the edges at 45  no amount of drainage works will help unless you can physical pump the water away so go back to more traditional ways
This is the first age that has ever paid much attention to the future which is ironic since we may not have one !(Arthur c Clarke)

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Toosje

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 21:38 »
This is what we have around our garden: this is the side of the fruityard. We added some soil because it was ..sloping? to one corner. Now it is all on one level. This is the corner of the grapes, so it really needs to have proper drainage: grapes don't like to bathe :)

The trench is about 30 cm deep (Yes we need to take the weeds out, but as you said this is a busy time in the garden ;) )

The neighbor is going to join us in the effort so it won't fill up as fast as it used to do.

The tiles we used are often for free to pick up or beside the road. It are the big heavy gravel/concrete tiles.
DSC_0650.jpg
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 21:40 by Toosje »

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Goosegirl

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2018, 14:51 »
This is the last thing you need when gardening on a budget! Ok - your ground may look flat, but even the very slightest difference in height between one side and another will make any water run downwards. Sorry if that sounds a bit daft but you know what I mean! What topsoil there is in my ornamental garden lies on top of alluvial silt which has the same texture as clay so, even after years of cultivation, it does not drain very well. Abut 15 years ago we bought a bit of field from a farm next to us. At best it had about 5" top soil then I met the silt which showed a well-defined layer of compaction (i.e. a soil pan) due to the tractors continually driving over the grass. I made raised beds by removing the turf by hand, used the turf in between as paths, but could only dig a spade's spit down in my trench before I found the silt layer, broke the trench up by wiggling a fork in the bottom, added what manure, mushroom compost (cheap stuff but good due to the lime content which binds the tiny particles of clay soils making them bigger), sharp sand with added grit then replaced the top soil. Ok- having said that, some investigation is needed before you go any further so, as said, ask around including the council or whatever other organisation has been involved in that area, and old maps are useful in determining where streams were in the past. Try the ridge-and-furrow method this year so you can at least get started.
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Toosje

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Re: 1/3 of plot is water-logged
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2018, 08:42 »
Ehm... the water is suppose to run down to the trench, to the main trench that is beside every path and runs to little.. streams? This is where we can take water from when needed for the greenhouses e.o.

The compact layers is what I meant earlier in my message: this will also happen when you only work the toplayer. A new hard top wil form under the added soil. To prevent this you drill, or dig deep.
My neighbors on the plot all dig in their compost: they dig a big big hole at the end of the year and drop all the greens in it. This way they move about through the garden and keep breaking the layer underneath.

The plot has been there for quite some time and we are obliged to keep out trenches in good shape. This is not just somebodies idea but a system that has proven to work. The gardens with neglected trenches are absolutely soaked.



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