Thursday 18 April 2013

Soggy Feet: Step 1 - Defining the Problem

I've got a serious case of soggy feet ... my own for sure (it is spring after all), but mainly those of my intended future plants.

The north end of my new property, where the current garden is located, and where I've already situated the first of three raised gardens, receives the most sun.  Not just due to its natural geographical location, but also because it is the most open space I have, whereas the rest of my property is covered in trees - a veritable forest, in fact. It shouldn't be surprising then that I intended to plant many of my perennial vegetable plants there.  I had it all laid out - asparagus, rhubarb, raspberry and blueberry bushes.

But equally, it shouldn't be surprising for me to discover that there is so much ground water it is not possible for me to follow through on my intentions in that area.  Here is what should have tipped me off sooner:

(1) that general area of the yard is still severely flooded following the winter thaw and recent rains;

(2) the amount of ground water pouring from a pipe into my sump pit causes the pump to run every 15 minutes all day and night; and,

(3) the recent attempt to plant rhubarb (see How to Plant Rhubarb - note: I will update that post to admit my error with the wet soil!).

However, it wasn't completely clear to me until yesterday evening.  I planted a new rhubarb plant two days ago.  Yesterday, I started to dig a trench nearby for the asparagus crowns that are being delivered this week.  The rhubarb looked limp, but I assumed it to be "adjusting" to its new environment.  After a few shovels full, I noticed that the holes quickly filled up with water - the same thing that happened when I dug the hole for the rhubarb.  It suddenly occurred to me ... crap, I'm living next to a bog!

Beginning of the asparagus "trench"

Maybe "bog" is a bit of an exaggeration, but my point #2 above requires more explanation.  I moved into this house just a few months back in December.  Immediately, I realized that I could hear the sump pump running every 15 minutes, which continued ALL WINTER, not just now during the spring thaw! So how much water is there??  And when, if at all, will it start to dry up?  By the way, I've just gotten used to the noise - but beware visitors!

The previous owners had a garden dug in that area, and were obviously growing veggies based on the debris I see now.  It is piled up with soil slightly above ground level - a few inches maybe.  So perhaps that is enough to ensure plants aren't too wet, but have steady access to moisture when needed. To think positively, I can only hope that the plants I put in the raised gardens will survive, and won't need much watering!  I'll have to see that in action to be sure. But most definitely, I cannot expect to grow perennials the likes of asparagus, rhubarb and berries - none of which like to be soggy at the roots.

In the meantime, I'm forced to redo my garden plans (and very quickly, the asparagus crowns should be arriving tomorrow or early next week latest).

I'll be following up this posting in two more parts: Part 2 - researching options for plants that like to have soggy feet so I can effectively use that space, and Part 3 - outlining the final solution.

Wish me luck!  If anyone can provide information on plants that like wet soil and full sun in Eastern Ontario, it would be greatly appreciated!

And a little yard update - being new to the property, I have no idea what is going to pop up.  I also have not had much experience with flowers, so don't really know what's what unless it's totally obvious.  So here is what I found in my yard today:

Grew up right through a leaf - in the grass!
I think these are daffodils?
Just this little patch in a bordered garden