Being water wise was killing my plant. - How to drain a water logged garden
by Les Boucher
A few months back I built a new raised garden bed to take a couple of Dwarf apple trees (one Pink Lady and a Granny Smith)as both are required for cross pollination.
My trouble started with the ground that I built the beds on ...it was sloping and has a clay base with a thin layer of soil over the top.
As usual I spread some gypsum (clay breaker) around, dug it into the top layer and laid newspaper down. Over this I placed a thick layer of compost covered by another layer of newspaper and then sugarcane mulch. After waiting a couple of weeks, I planted my two trees.
Tree number one took off and hasn't looked back while tree number two, the Granny Smith, started to sulk. It gave out a few small leaves which curled up and started to go brown around the edges. I should add that The Granny was on the lower end of the slope but still far enough up the slope to allow water to run out of the end of the garden bed. I let it sulk for a month or two hoping that it would come right. In the meantime we had rain after rain.
I decided that it was time to look at the tree and see what was happening. I have a handy little tool which allows me to check light, PH value and water content. I stuck it in the ground and the PH was spot on. I then tried the water content and the needle zoomed past the highest reading (10) and would have reached 100 if that had been on the scale. The ground was water logged at that end of the garden even with the drainage.
To fix the problem I purchased two bags of a cheap potting mix from the local supermarket which was, in the main, sand and dug it in around (and just out from the roots) of the tree. I then dug a trench about 1 meter (3ft) from the tree and laid down a piece of agricultural pipe and covered it over with the wet soil.
I'm happy to report that my Granny Smith has now started to put out some leaves and to encourage more root growth I have watered it with some seasol which has it up and singing.
Sometimes we get carried away with no dig gardens and forget just how much moisture is retained. If your plants are looking a little sick....check the moisture level of your soil and, if you need to, put in a bag of sand or cheap potting mix to help with the drainage.