Sunday, 3 February 2013

Land Drains

We had hoped to spend the weekend planting fruit trees on the hillside. However, when we came to dig the holes, we found the ground is waterlogged, and not draining at all well. Certainly, it's been wet for the last month, with 10" of snow, followed by 3" of rain: but the ground is downright boggy at the foot of the hillside—and waterlogged even up the slope. The problem, basically, is compacted and humus-poor soil of only 8" depth, on top of impermeable clay.

We've had to change our plans, therefore, and have spent the past two days digging twelve planting pits (a quarter of the total needed), and land drains. There's one herringbone arrangement linking half a dozen of the pits, and a second trench draining two more: these lead to a newly built culvert in the wall flowing into the road-side ditch. Three planting pits further up the hill have trenches leading away from them, to make sure that these pits don't submerge. These are just open ditches at the moment, but in time we'll hope to make them covered drains, possibly leading on to the lower system.

Another six or so holes further along are going to need the same treatment: we've dug the ditches to bring two of them down to a spinal drain, which leads partway to the wall (the rest of the length, and the culvert, will follow). Three above this will definitely need to be linked in; possibly one further.

All in all, this means another weekend of drain digging, at least, and then a glut of planting. We think we can still get everything planted by the end of the month, but it'll mean a bit of a soggy slog!

In more pleasant news, we've sown some more achillea (Summer Pastels, and Cloth of Gold); some Snow in Summer, and aquilegia 'Royal Purple'. We also started the vegetable sowing, with a pot of each of beetroot, leeks, and spinach.

We also need to pack up our Corolle seed potatoes, as they've been recalled: I've ordered some Kestrel tubers, as a replacement.

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