Standing water on your allotment poses the question of where the water has come from – is it just the result of heavy rain leading to standing water or is it flooding from a source outside you allotment?
After Heavy Rain
If you have standing water after a period of heavy rain and it is not flood water, you can only wait for drier weather in order to be able to work on your allotment again. This will be the case on many allotments on sites away from roads and rivers.
When you are again able to work, consider the following courses of action.
- Dig thoroughly to ensure that the soil is able to drain well again. This may well require double digging to ensure that there is no solid layer that prevents drainage. This can be done as you prepare to plant an area.
- Improve the soil structure by working in copious amounts of hummus such as compost and manure as you work. This will help drainage in the future.
- Include green manures in your crop rotation and dig these in as another source of hummus.
- If you are on a slope dig a drainage ditch so that water has somewhere to drain from your growing area.
- Add a balanced fertiliser to your growing area before planting.
- Choose permeable surfaces when laying paths to allow rain to soak in rather than choosing pavings.
- Choose crops that are more suited to wetter conditions for the season as especially on Prudhoe clay it will take time to dry.
This may slow your production down but will not prevent you having a useful growing season and is no reason to say that you are unable to cultivate your allotment.
- After flooding, wash down hard surfaces and collect up debris to prevent drains blocking, soil surfaces being covered, and pollutants or contaminants lingering in the garden. Wear gloves and overalls to minimise contact with pollutants.
- Keep off the soil until it is workable as this will avoid compacting it and worsening the conditions
- After flooding, edible crops ready to or near to harvest are best not eaten: no assurances can be given that root crops will be safe to eat, so they should be discarded. Plants eaten raw should be discarded too.
- It is prudent to avoid growing salads and other uncooked crops for two years in case disease spores remain in the soil.
- HOWEVER so many crops can be grown in containers and grow-bags, as the Royal Horticultural Society suggests, that you can still provide a lot of edible goodies from your allotment. So do not be downhearted.
- The following year after flooding, it should be safe to grow crops that are to be cooked and you have all that spent compost to use for soil improvements.
- Whilst you are not growing edible crops you can follow the routine above for improving your soils.
- You will also be able to plant flowers to encourage wild life and bees during the year when you are not growing food. These provide future material for your compost heap and if you select the right ones, items for local horticultural shows. You will of course not choose edible flowers such as nasturtiums in this situation.
By following suggestions 5 and 8 above, you will be able to show that you are cultivating your allotment and so meet the requirements of your tenancy rules.
Discussion and comments can be read here on floods on allotments (this is quite a well respected site) and the effects of water-logging on long term plants can be seen here. This latter will help you to recognise what is happening to long term bushes, shrubs and other plants.