Monday, January 25, 2016

Mud, Sweat and Tears... and Mouths

BEFORE: Heap of clay to the north of pond
AFTER: Heap of clay gone, more pond
Despite best endeavours, the water levels just keep on rising. The course of the path, now a trench down the middle of the North end of the plot, is filled with water. To try to lower the overall levels, I dug out another area, maybe 15ft sq, (the right hand AFTER picture). As you can see from the photos, that caused the overall levels to drop by, oh, 2ins. 

To add to my woes, it looks like the water is backing up into the NW bed, which is severely waterlogged again - you can see water lying on it. You can't walk on it without going ankle deep in mud. To relieve this, I'm going to lay a French drain - along the course of where you can see the drainpipe laid across the bed, and about 2ft deep.

An almost £ shaped pond. 
And I'm going to have to dig yet more pond, quite a big area, to get the overall levels down. As you can see, by accident, the pond is beginning to look like a £ sign. I just need to extend the bottom right part there, to complete it. It'll look pretty funky on google earth: a pound pond. Actually, that bottom right area needs to be quite big and deep, so it's going to be a £ with a bit of a flourish at the end, extending right up to the hedgerow on the Eastern boundary, which will be Alders at that point.

All of which excavation means I need to clear away the spoil from earlier digs, (I took the £ photo from the top of a small hill of earth. To start moving excess earth from the NE to the NW bed, I need to dig the trench for the French drain, and reinstate the path, to be able to get the barrow down there for earth shifting purposes...

So yesterday I got onto relaying to path on top of 3 courses of loosely placed bricks - the idea being water will drain down from the NW bed and pass into the pond via the loose bricks beneath the path... But mind, laying three courses of bricks into a waterlogged muddy trench in January lacks entertainment value. And I don't think I'm making a great job of it. I got as far as laying enough path for 3 concrete flags, (out of a total of 25). Eyeing them up, they seem to be heading slightly in the wrong direction, and they feel a bit wobbly to walk on.

Drainpipe, now French drain. 
Tiring of the bloody path, I took the 20ft bit of drainpipe up the allotment to the shed, propped it on a couple of water barrels, and got at it with the saw to cut holes in and make it a French drain. I put the holes roughly every 9ins, on both sides of the pipe. I like the way they look like mouths, which is appropriate, I was thinking slightly deliriously as I finished that job, utterly knackered, for a pipe on an allotment which gets mentioned in Alasdair Gray's Lanark, a novel in which strange mouths feature several times.

This past weekend was the first time in 7 1/2 months that I've gotten even slightly discouraged. I didn't think I was going to get so bogged down, (literally and metaphorically) in the drainage situation. Another couple of weeks, well, let's say end of February, should see the path relaid and the levels sorted. I really need it ready for planting in April. I had planned to have the whole plot ready for this year's growing season, but I'm not so sure about that now. Heigh ho. Good job I'm in this for the long haul. I keep imagining how it's going to be, with the pond thriving, the hedgerow growing, and the beds producing.

If I'd had this as a full time job since last June, working 7 or 8 hours, 5 days a week, it would be all done by now...