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Gayton-based gardener Jamie Marsh talks about problems gardening with wet weather

In his weekly Jamie’s Little Allotment column, gardener Jamie Marsh talks about the wet weather…

The main conversation between gardeners is definitely the weather: “It's way too hot, is there going to be a frost tonight? We could do with some more rain.”

But that last one has only been said with a huge dose of sarcasm this winter.

Many gardens will be looking similar to this at the moment
Many gardens will be looking similar to this at the moment

I don’t think I’ve ever known the weather to be quite as bad as it has been this year.

But there’s been no, or at least very little actual wintery weather.

No snow, hardly any frost, just rain, rain and more rain.

Turn your mind back to last summer when the Water butts were empty, the beds were so dry the soil was cracking, and hosepipes are not allowed down the allotment so it’s traipsing backwards and forwards to the standpipe with a watering can in each hand, trying to keep your precious vegetables alive.

That is now a very distant memory, every time you take a look out of the window, rain.

Whenever you think, I need to do a bit of weeding, rain.

I know none of us want to get wet and cold, but a good jacket and hat can sort that out.

These are a few of the quite major problems we can come across if we have as much rain as we’ve had this year.

One that sticks out from the crowd, is soil compaction. It occurs when soil particles are pressed together, reducing the air gaps in the soil structure.

In turn gives the soil a greater density.

A compacted soil has a reduced rate of both water infiltration and drainage. This happens because large pores (or Air gaps) can effectively move water downward through the soil.

In turn leaving the rainwater with nowhere to go, so it sits on top as a puddle.

Also, the roots of the plants will suffer massively for a couple of reasons.

The very delicate root systems of our precious plants need air to be healthy, and if the soil is compacted it squeezes the air out, and also a hard compacted soil leaves the roots fighting to get to where they need to.

So the best way to not get into this situation is to walk on the soil structure as little as possible, every footstep is a huge weight in one small area compressing the soil.

If you need to walk on the soil, use a piece of wood or a scaffold board to spread the weight over a larger area.

If you find yourself in a situation where your allotment or garden beds are already compacted and the water is puddling you will have to fix it yourself.

This next part goes against what I’m all for at the moment,which is the no-dig method of gardening, which is exactly what it says on the tin, basically digging the soil as little as possible, letting the worms do their job the same as in nature.

You will see a difference once all the hard work has been completed, the rain will drain away a lot faster, your plants will grow bigger and stronger because the roots are free to go wherever they like and where they need to.

I have spoke about the no-dig method briefly before, but maybe we can go a bit deeper into the subject next week.

As normal please email me any questions you have to Jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

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