|Roger and Cathi's garden. It got much worse than this|
As I write this we have no idea how it will end. A huge lake has invaded our garden. It might be only 30 cm deep but it covers more than a hectare. It covers half of Cathi’s garden and continues on over her fields. Its total volume must be more than a million litres.
Each time in rains yet again the lake’s level rises by more than the rainfall. A centimetre of rain brings a rise of rather more. Each dry day there is no perceptible fall in the level. We have had a pump going that takes out thousands of litres an hour. I makes no difference. Imagine emptying your bath at a cupful a day- or perhaps even by a thimble?
As I write at the moment I cannot bare to predict the harm to my garden. At present a fifth under water a further rise of 40cm will threaten our house. Already Cathi’s barn is under water. Every morning she wades across the mud to feed her old rhea stranded and isolated on the far bank.
There is still ahead of us a Winter of wet and little evaporation.
I cannot bare at this stage to elaborate on the measures we are taking to provide drainage.
|It looks spectacular at times|
Let me step back to describe the fundamental principles.
Most gardeners are familiar with the problems when water stands and cannot penetrate through. The problem is usually puddling or compaction and gardeners often try to improve absorption by adding gritty materials and busting compaction.
This is not relevant to me as my soil is almost pure sand. Unfortunately two metres down it is pure clay where further penetration is almost impossible.
A route for surplus water
This is achieved by buried drainage tubes and ditches. On a very small scale perhaps rubble drains. The problem of course is there must be places for pipes and ditches to go.
Water received from higher land
This can be very much more than the actual rain that falls on your land. We have that in diamonds and are surrounded by higher land on three sides to the garden.
|How long will things survive underwater?|
|About half my garden has been underwater|
I don’t just mean the black stinking mess our garden became after six months of standing water but also the dark depression that crept up on me to the point that I am now on medication against acute anxiety. Brenda too struggles to hold us together. Its worse for Cathi next door. For months she waded every day across foot deep ever muddying water to feed her rhea stranded on the far side. Her shed is flooded and birds are trapped high in her henhouse. The ducks love it as each morning they swim outside. She struggles to keep her rescue hedgehogs thriving and cart out extra food to supplement the grass for her soay sheep.
It is only now I can bear to tell you about our watery nightmare. It’s not over yet but the end is nye. You might have noticed my posts have appeared less frequently recently. I have almost run through my stock and must write some more. I have just not felt up to it. Several further posts will be on the implications of this watery theme.
Things got worse after my first paragraph written six months ago. Our problem is that our gardens exist in what in Winter is a great big wet hole. Cathi and our own flooding has coalesced into a seven acre lake.
As we all know it just kept on raining last Autumn. In a two month period we had the rain for an average year.
|Searching for the drain in the dry top part of the garden.|
So much for no dig gardening!
Hitherto we have been dependent on a huge fourteen inch bore drain laid in 1940 by War Agriculture when constructing the then Melbourne airfield. It has become partially blocked over such long time. It runs down into the three foot slope to the top of our garden.
It goes under a fairly busy road at a depth of seven feet - and runs away to lower fields below
|The horror of finding the under road blockage|
Everyone told us being under the road made it the council’s responsibility!
Ever tried to get speedy work from a council whose maps show no drains at all! Cash strapped councils don’t do these things without prodding and ‘legislation’ and considerable time - which we did not have. We were told of a case where a council was successfully sued but the litigant was NOT awarded costs - more in lawyers fees than paying yourself.
We have asked a reputable contractor to do the work which as I write is delayed by administration!
A faltering step forward
By the time the lake had extended to seven acres Peter Williams and a local farmer John Rowbotham came up with a short term solution. John has a drain that crosses under the road two fields away from our flooded area and it has spare capacity. The farmer who owns the intermediate field (itself thoroughly saturated) kindly agreed for a drain to be cut across his land. Local drainage genius Robert Hunt braved the bog to cut in a three inch drain that leads into a temporary ditch that gives the water a route out. A ‘full pipe’ removes thousands of gallons an hour and yet it will still take a month to clear the water (And that assumes no more rain - some hope with a huge storm predicted for tomorrow)
|The machine that laid the drains was very speedy and Robert managed to not get stuck in the bog|
|Temporary ditch runs water to the drain|
I will be keeping you posted!
|Six months ago - much worse was to follow in Cathi's garden|