"good drainage" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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Good Drainage

Good drainage is essential to let rain - with which we are blessed in abundance - percolate through the soil and drain away from your gardens, instead of pooling and turning your gardens into a soggy, stagnant mess. Crops also need as much air in the soil as water, and good drainage under good rich soil assures both. And for prodigious harvests, we also want at least an 18" deep layer of beautiful rich soil.


A deep layer of rich loam over good drainage holds moisture far longer than shallower soil, and it also allows your crops to develop deep roots. This combination, deep loam and deep roots, will keep your crops growing lustily when the rain does not come, and it also sharply reduces the need for frequent irrigation. This not only saves much water and work, but it is a godsend for today's busy families, who may not find the time to irrigate a parched garden until the weekend comes around. With deep loam, holding plenty of deep moisture, and deep-rooted crops, you just don't have to worry overly about these things. Indeed, your crops can then take full advantage of the plentyful life-energy of many days of sunlight, and grow like nobody's business.

So, deep, well drained soil is one of the most important things we can do and, fortunately, this is also a one-time thing, and we need to do it only once. However, the most common conditions hereabouts are a 4 to 8 inch layer of topsoil, either over an impenetrable barrier of hardpan ( a layer of very hard clay), or over rock. But we still can have our 18 inch deep layer of rich well drained loam.

To start, we can dig a small hole in the ground and see where it 'hits bottom'. If it is hardpan, we can either have someone with a bobcat come in and deep till it to break up the hardpan, or have the bobcat dig a few strategic drainage ditches through the hardpan, or puncture the hardpan all over the place - every foot so in every direction - by driving a steel rod through it with a sledge hammer. It's well worth it, if good drainage is a problem.

If we find 18 inches or more of top- and sub soil, and drainage is not a problem, all we need to do is to improve the soil to a depth of our desired 18 inches, as per the previous article. If we hit hardpan or rock before that, we can do another really neat thing. We can make our gardens into raised beds - to a depth of 18 inches - with paths between the raised beds.This is an excellent and supremely productive way of gardening in any case, and very highly recommended.

The customary way of planting crops in single rows is not a good way of gardening at all. It comes to us from large scale farming with tractors and equipment, which has many disadvantages. It wastes a lot of space. It entails a lot of weeding in the spaces between rows. It compacts and hardens the soil from walking on it. And the bare ground between rows evaporates a lot of moisture. Altogether, it is very labour intensive, unproductive, and about the worst way of gardening there is.

Now then, if your soil is 18 inches or more deep, you do not really need raised beds, but you should arrange your gardens into 3 to 4 foot wide beds with paths in between anyhow. And if you have less than 18" deep soil, raised beds are a necessity for well drained and highly productive gardens with very, very little labour. Next, we'll tackle raised beds.



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