Thursday, November 19, 2015

Water-logging? What water-logging?

When I take the car to the allotment, I park it by the fence at the northern end. I then have to walk around to the allotment gates, and the fence is about 8ft high, but you can see through it. This gives me a nice perspective, a bit of distance.

Anyway, I got away from Google Scholar this afternoon for a couple of hours, during which time, mostly, the rain kept off. Frankly, I've been on the settee with the macbook since Sunday, so it had become a mental health issue to get some exercise and fresh air.

From the car, I could see straightaway that the puddle from Sunday was gone. This was surprising, as it has rained most of the time since then, thanks to Abigail and her pal Barney; (what's the next storm going to be? Clarissa?)  When I got round, I dug up some paving slabs from the path. For God's sake! Laid on clay, not the subsoil clay, but the clayey soil that passes for topsoil in the ungardened parts of the allotment; a row of bricks down each edge of the slab, fair enough. And - wait for it - some kind of black plastic sheeting. I mean, wtf? You can see why I've got drainage problems.

So in two places I lifted the slabs, removed plastic and bricks, and dug down a bit into the clay, and I could see the water draining off the east and west beds into the half-spade depth of hole I'd dug. This cheers me up no end. All I need to do is dig some kind of brick (French) drain under the raised path and... voila!

I spent quite a bit of time just looking at "the pond" from the northern end, and at the northern and southern ends from "the pond", and, yes it's going to work. The beds will drain nicely under the path, and I can level the drain so that it has ever such a slight gradient going to the pond, from north and south. Halle-bloomin'-lujah! A lovely big pond, with frogs, dragonflies, lilies, marginal plants and goodness knows what else, all acting to drain an allotment which is otherwise liable to water-logging. I have to blog this because no one I see face-to-face, day-to-day would get the utter perfection, the sheer bloody marvellousness that it will be.

It wasn't all standing looking and digging in the clarts mind, I did quite a bit of the auld hard labour, too. I piled up all the old tarpaulins, the vegetated stair runner that was growing into the dyke, polystyrene fish boxes (which I know can be used as planters, but don't bloody like them), and other rubbish into a heap behind the "shed" ready to be barrowed to the skip.

All the stray bricks which had been dug out of various areas in the north end got barrowed to the Frogs' Winter Palace, (necessitating that noise weightlifters do, between a shout and a grunt, several times). Finally, interrupted for about 15 mins by the afternoons only rain shower, I got all the cuttings from the cherry tree and fruit bushes gathered up at the north end, another winter refuge for wildlife. I put them there as it's the only part of the allotment which doesn't need to be levelled over the winter, it's about right. There they are in the photo, that's about 12 feral fruit bushes worth, nearly 6ft high that heap, with the tops of the cherry tree to the left. Not for a bonfire mind. They can spend the winter there, and maybe this time next year I'll have a cabin and a wee wood-burning stove and they'll be used to boil the water for tea. The wood of a fruit bush should have a unique scent as it burns, don't you think?

And here is a photo of the pond/Old Greenhouse area. It's not that bad, is it? A few tons to dig out and barrow around the plot, no big deal if we get a dry spell over the winter.

So pleased I got there today. There was none of the slightly alien feel I got last time. It's my allotment, and I've worked bloody hard on it, and next spring I'm going to be planting a load of herbs and vegetables. And I can spend time of a winter's evening researching things like pond marginals. And remember, digging ponds and French drains means endorphins. No gym membership required.