I think i’ve found the ‘river’ that is alleged to be under my allotment. I’ve dug most of the bottom end where the reeds were growing (that should have been a clue) to find the soil soaking wet 6 inches under the surface. It wasn’t just wet, it pooled with water, an ideal spot to construct a dam / swale. I am piling the soil up high either side and making the swale wide to ensure any plants I will be growing there don’t drown. The beds’ highest points are 2 feet above the surface of the swale. To those who don’t know, a swale is a ditch dug on contour so that any water entering it slows down to a crawl (because it is flat) and percolates into your beds for later use.
Just below this spot on the slope is the access road, where of course the water run-off really turns into a stream. I aim with my swales to reduce this water run off, though how I am supposed to tell I don’t know, because no one higher up the slope than me is doing any ditch work.
The video below doesn’t show any of this cos I did it a couple of days ago, but it does show a swale further up the slope and gives you an idea of the type of plot I am dealing with.
I have also had to adapt my design to the huge amount of horse manure that is delivered free to the plot. I had planned on doing a sustainable food forest style set up where nutrients were recycled and alleys of nitrogen fixers provided nutrient rich mulch, but it would be churlish – possibly even childish and naive – to turn my nose up at this valuable waste resource. Horse manure is not sustainable as part of a wider agricultural ecology, but me recycling a waste resource is beneficial. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t plan for it but I shan’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth, but anyway who knows how long it will last – I shall design the plot to be ready to respond should the situation change. My back garden will remain a closed loop system for all those thinking about cancelling their subscription.
Already, I have made a pile to compost down, and to make good use of the heat generated I have bunged a cold frame on top with 6 inches of soil. I have made a hot bed!
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