How to garden in wet ground?

I live in Lebanon, Oregon, about 30 miles southeast of Salem, Oregon. this time of year it rains...and rains...and rains...and doesn't usually stop until May, sometimes June. Does anyone have any pracitcal advice for gardening in the spring when the soil is wet? Last year all I was able to do was stick some onion sets in the mud - they did very well, btw, I was very happy with how that turned out - we had onions all summer long, and there are still a few sitting in the mud that I missed when cleaning out the garden in the late fall. Anyhow, I can't till the ground, it's just too wet. I'm afraid this year will be a repeat - onion sets pushed into the mud :)
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Lots of plants will do OK in wet ground. It's not so much an issue of compatibility. Rather, it's about whether all the human attention compresses the wet soil, from walking and kneeling on it. So, go to a home supply store and buy a piece of 1x10 or 1x12 wood, as long as is appropriate, and a pair of really good knee pads (because it's no fun to kneel on hard wood). Put the plank down where you need to work. It'll distribute your weight and the soil won't become as compressed as if you'd knelt directly on it. You do NOT have to buy treated wood for this. I have a 20 year old plank that's not rotted at all. Just brush off the soil and stand it up in the garage to dry.
You should have no trouble growing things like broccoli, lettuce, collards, lobster, swiss chard, escarole, spinach, and anything else that needs to grow fast before the hot weather arrives.
Incidentally, wet soil in springtime is the reason why many garden authors suggest that you do all your prep work in the fall, so the ground's ready to receive seedlings without any tilling. Yes, the soil will have settled over the winter, but that's nowhere near as bad as what your feet will do to it.
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You need two things: 1) raised beds and 2) the book, "Growing vegetables west of the Cascades" by Steve Solomon.
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g'day zootal,
you ever considered using raised beds?
we have pics and description on how we do our beds at our site you are welcome to have a look.
http://www.lensgarden.com.au /
On Tue, 23 Jan 2007 20:23:32 -0800, "Zootal"
snipped With peace and brightest of blessings,
len
-- "Be Content With What You Have And May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In A World That You May Not Understand."
http://www.lensgarden.com.au /
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I would add sand to your soil to improve drainage. I would forget the idea of using mulch. I'd also make sure any runoff is drawn away from your garden.
Good luck!
Bill
--

S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
http://www.ocutech.com/ High tech Vison aid
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Sand plus clay equals concrete. Much better to add organic matter.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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expounded:

Not only that, but there *are* places where it doesn't matter WHAT you add to the soil. It's just wet, for any number of reasons.
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Well, once the rainy season is over, everything is just fine. It's just a challenge sometimes to get spring veggies planted because of the rain/mud. Summer here is awesome for gardening. It so happens that we had a 3 week dry spell, and i was able to till my entire garden (Woohoo!). Now it's raining again but I got the onions, garlic, and potatoes in, and I'm going to try to poke some pea seeds into the mud this weekend.
My soil drains very well. Last year I planted in beds and tried to flood the beds to water, but the water drained down into the soil faster then I could apply it. Ended up setting up sprinklers to water with.
wrote:

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dry
to
the
could
I missed the original post so am not sure whether this suggestion is useful or not, however. It has been suggested in stuff I have read that planting a cover crop in late winter/early spring will help dry out water logged soil prior to spring sowing. The cover crop will soak up some of the rain and dry the soil quicker. Once the weather improves the cover crop can be killed off and mulched across the gardens or removed and composted ready to be put back as a nutrients later in the growing season. Obviously kill the crop off before it sets seed. Grass is a very simple suggestion or maybe clover which will also help fix nitrogen. The cover crops can also help harvest existing nutrients and 'store' them until needed thereby saving them being lost through leaching.
rob
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Unfortunately, I had a real nice cover crop of clover - the miserable stuff that took over my garden last year. And grass. And leftover garden. I tilled all of it under, and it will sit for the next couple months until the weather warms up. My original post was how to plant spring stuff when it rains every day, day after day, week after month. Non-stop rain from Jan 1 to end of May. Last year I didn't plant much spring stuff because it never stopped raining. This year we had a 3 week dry spell, and I was able to turn everything over and get some onions, potatoes, garlic, and peas in the ground, and I'm trying to move my strawberries while I can. Now it's mud again, but it's cleared and plowed :)
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The best you can hope for is to NOT COMPRESS IT by kneeling or walking directly on it. Buy a 1x10 or 1x12 board, whatever length is convenient to handle. Lay that on the area where you need to work. Kneel on that, not right on the soil. Obviously, it's a hard surface, so you'll need to have kneepads or some other thing to make you comfortable.
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wrote:

I have to garden in an area that is basically a swamp in the spring. I second the raised bed idea. I also use a 7'x 14' x 20' hoop house (pvc pipe and green house plastic) and containers. I especially like the self watering containers I made from low wide storage tubs and that black perforated drain pipe as they never get water logged and are pretty cheap to make. I am also slowly adding terraces to a hill beside the house that are back filled with well draining soil, but you do get a lot more rain than I do. You might do well with the hoop house, as that allows you to control water and temp all year long. I started out with raised beds in mine and now have a combo of raised beds and cintainers in it.
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