Our subsoil is now fully charged with water. Normally by the autumn it would be dried out and shrunken, ready to absorb the rains of autumn. This year, like last, all the rain which falls is lying on the surface. A quick glance at low-lying fields shows standing water everywhere. We will just have to do our best to cope with the problem.
Left - lay boards alongside rows to walk on.
Normally, our rainfall in Kent is inadequate to our needs and hosepipe bans are a frequent trial for the keen gardener. However, we have had a very prolonged wet spell -= several years now - and dry summer grass and parched soil are becoming a distant memory. Although September was dry, it came after a wetter-than-usual summer and has been followed by a long spell of frequent heavy rain. On Saturday night alone nearly one inch of rain fell.
Covering areas of soil will, unfortunately, just throw the extra rain onto adjacent areas. But it is worth doing this if you intend to sow winter peas and beans. While in Northern areas it is OK to sow these in October, it's best to wait till later in autumn here in the South, and mid-December is an ideal date most years. Take the time to raise the area you will be sowing into by throwing soil towards the centre. Raking it will be tricky with it this wet, but level it as best you can then cover with polythene (clear is fine as you aren't trying to suppress weeds). Weight the polythene down well all round, or it will blow away. With any luck, a combination of keeping any further rain off, and the drying effect of the sun through the polythene, will mean you can roll the cover back in a month's time and sow into reasonable soil rather than a muddy mess!
Kent's climate is drier, hotter and has a longer growing season than the average for the UK. Advice in gardening books may not fit Kent. This blog has local tips on what will grow and when to do garden jobs.
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