[permaculture] Drainage

Lisa Rollens rollens at fidnet.com
Tue Jan 3 14:02:21 EST 2012


> 
> Will those with experiences of soil drainage in wet climates please share those experiences, observations and advice.
> 
> Steve
> Indiana USA
> 
Steve, I feel your pain.  I lived outside of Cincinnati for 7 years, all the while with flooded ground.  I literally could not get the spring crops out until about the third week of Jun, and that's definitely not spring any more.  Very discouraging.  The  one thing I wanted to say was that one of my neighbors put in drainage lines underground.  all was fine during wet springs, but the one dry season while I was there....all his raspberries died from the drought.  In that year,  I grew potatoes that were out of this world.  Two potatoes would be all a dinner plate could hold.  Sweet potatoes did well there, but I dug them with a water hose, to loosen the dry clay to get them out without breaking.

I had access to stall straw and manure and put many truckloads in the garden for 7 years, and even tho it increased the organic matter, I didn't see a difference in the flooding problems.  Raised beds didn't do any good at all because the water stood t the top of the beds, and therefore flooded the root zones.  I also planted fruit trees, and they eventually died.  :^(

One thing I did learn was that if I had crops planted and we got flooding rains, go back and put a nitrogen source on the crops, blood meal, dilute urine, etc.  That actually did work because almost all nitrogen is lost when the ground floods like that....as you know!!

another thing I learned is to till the soil even when it was wet, lightly and shallowly, to break the surface and help it dry. Yes, I know you're not supposed to do that, but if you do it, let the chunks dry somewhat, and then till again, the chunks will go under the surface and soften up and you won't ruin the texture of the soil like you usually do when tilling wet.  Of course, we know that no till is better, but on that soil, the surface would become concrete and stay wet almost forever if the surface wasn't broken a bit and I probably wouldn't have been able to grow anything all summer.

Carrots did surprisingly well.  Potatoes did OK if I could keep then from rotting from flooding (plant on mounds), melons did poorly because by the time I got them planted and growing well, we were back to cool and wet weather in August, not good for ripening melons.

Now I am in the MO Ozarks with sandy soil.  Different problems, but I never miss the mud!  Good luck!

Lisa




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