Water And Air - A Vital Pair
If no outlet can be provided, a dry well can be used as a partial answer to the drainage problem. A dry well must be big enough to take the surrounding soil's excess water until it can be lost by leaching, by evaporation or by transpiration. With a dry well there is no chance for run-off-the fourth way soils lose water-into a low area. One solution I have found for blotting up the water that gathers in a dry well is to plant a willow tree over the well. A willow will tolerate wet feet, and will transpire a barrel or more of water a day when in growth.

Although erosion is a serious problem in farm soils, few gardens are large enough to consider this factor. When gardens must be made on slopes, common sense will dictate that the rows run along the slope rather than up and down, and that soil be made as absorp­tive as possible. Too, whenever a crop is harvested, some sort of a cover crop or mulch should go on as soon as possible to prevent washouts. Many kinds of effective soil-binding ground covers are available to gardeners whose landscapes contain slopes too steep (or otherwise unsuited) for grass.

The old reason given for cultivation was to maintain a dust mulch to "save moisture." We now know that tillage wastes about as muck moisture as it saves. As crumbs of soil are kicked up by tillage equipment, all sides are exposed to air, allowing far more moisture to escape than if nothing were done. The only saving by tillage comes from weed destruction.

To overcome the problem of high water table, you can resort to an old Dutch trick-raised beds. Ever since tulips were first introduced into Holland in 1560, the Dutch have had to fight this problem and thus can teach us a trick or two.

First step is to wait until the water level is at its lowest point, usually late July or early August. Then scrape off the topsoil (which is usually quite rich in such spots) and pile it at one end of the property. Next, use any available non-rotting fill to build up to level about 12 inches. Do not use stiff clay or similar non-porous material, however. One of the best materials to use is ordinary steam cinders, available cheaply from power generating plants or from industrial plants with high pressure boilers. Sometimes the cinders can be had for the hauling. In this use, the cinders need not be weathered or washed: they will be under so much soil that sulfur compounds they contain will be well neutralized.

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