Saturday, 2 February 2013

On dry land

We all know that here in England, we had our wettest year on record in 2012. The rain continued right up to the end of the year and then, at least where we are in the North East, the intensity of rainfall fell considerably. That's not to say we have had no rain. We have had some, but it is closer to what we would normally expect. There was, of course, the snow. It lay for two weeks in our part of the world but has now thawed and gone.

My fear was that once the snow had melted, the allotment would turn to the Somme style landscape of mud and puddles. Last year, there was so much rain that the ground was saturated. It could take no more rainwater so everytime it rained, the water simply sat on the surface. Once the hens, ducks and ourselves had tramped through it a few times, mud was everywhere. Interestingly, this has not happened this time round.

Instead, the puddles and mud have been largely absent. Okay, some of the ground is wet, the ground around the duck house and the fruit cage was very wet and a stream ran for a few days across the allotment, but the chaos I expected never happened. So why is that? Well, the more normal levels of rainfall has, I reckon, given the ground the chance to drain. The first 2 weeks of January saw only modest rain and during the second two weeks, the surface of the ground was frozen. The freeze, however, did not penetrate the ground to a significant depth. There is a depression in the ground where our allotment gate opens and I noticed that when everything else was frozen, that patch was wet. So, go down into the ground a few centimetres and the deep freeze didn't penetrate. So, for nearly a month, the ground had a chance to drain off some of the excess from last year.

We will however still be putting in drainage this year. We do not want to get caught out as we were last year by the weather. It will be the biggest single project of the year but it has to be done.


magratmadcat said...

The reason the ground isn't too muddy now is that it is actually floating on top of all that water! I live in the north east too, and my allotment is the same, wet, but not welly-swallowing-bog wet!

elfriide tramm said...

we have sometimes the same problem in springtime due to very thin layer of soil on the limestone. so if it starts to melt, there is too much water on this thin soil which
can't absorb so mch water for short time period. so we digged some ditches/trenches, appr 30 cm deep, covered these with filtering cloth and filled with ... not gravel, but small particles (appr 3-5 cm) of stone. and covered it with the same cloth. basically filled our trenches with this stone-gravel which was wrapped into filter cloth (as a sausage). this way it works. if to leave cloth out, during some years the stone-gravel will be plaquied with mud and stops working. of course some holed drainage tubes would work as well, but as these sould also be covered with a cloth, it would be much more expensive, so we used stone-gravel.