Garden Worxs

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Gardening for the 21st Century

Flooded Garden: Where Your Garden Goes To Die

Each of us are facing a flooded garden. It is a manner of when not if. Desertification in one area and flooding in other areas are the result of climate change. So, what is your next move?

So if you were unfortunate to have experienced a flooded garden this year, you know your garden was poisoned with toxins above and below the ground.

Your garden will take years to remediate the kinds and levels of poisons from the soil. This is because petrochemicals, raw sewage, debris, and anaerobic decomposition of organic materials killed the microbial life in the soil.

Rest assured. You might have missed this year’s event; your turn is coming soon. You must prepare now to limit the impact of a flooded garden.

What you need to know now

Flooding this year happened throughout the mid-west, mid-Atlantic, eastern coastline, and deep south. The excess water means a flooded garden.

If you were the guy on the right then you probably don’t need to worry. The rest of us need to be very careful due to the contamination of our ground.

Our gardens are going through massive changes both above and below the ground. The negative ecological impacts apply to in-ground gardens and flooded raised beds and containers.

Dead Zone: What Is Your Next Move?

Excessive flood waters saturated the soil. The mud and pollutants seal off access routes that supply oxygen to plant root zones. The process of soil oxygen depletion starts occurring within 48 hours.

Watering your garden is essential, as you know too much of a good thing can be devastating. Overwatering can lead to a flooded garden with a dead zone in your garden. This where garden goes to die. When plants can’t get enough oxygen to survive and eventually succumb to the sogginess. Over watering can happen in as little as a day and is often caused by poor soil drainage or heavy rains.

As with us, with no oxygen in the root zone environment, plants can’t take in the nutrients and water needed to stay alive, so they lose their leaves and wilt. They may also become stunted, with yellow or brown leaves.

Overwatering can lead to a buildup of nitrogen in the ground and too much can be toxic to plants. This can create problems such as root rot and other diseases. In extreme cases, it can even kill plants.

To prevent overwatering and the resulting flooded dead zone in your garden, start by improving the soil drainage in your garden bed. Ensure the soil’s not too compacted, and add compost or mulch to help it retain moisture. It’s also important to check the soil moisture before watering. If you are unsure how much to water use a moisture meter to determine if your plants need water. If the soil and the air are still damp, your plants may not need watering. Water early in the day so the plants can absorb the water before the heat of the day.

For an example of flooded garden ground with a temperature is 60° or above, corn will suffocate within two (2) days. Anaerobic bacteria will use nitrogen to metabolize energy and grow.

Anaerobic soil (bacteria that live in an oxygen-free environment) convert nitrogen into a gaseous state releasing various forms of nitrogen (N2, N2O, NO) into the air.

Water-saturated nutrients will also move down through the soil column. As a result, the loss of garden nutrients, micronutrients, and microorganisms may take years to recover.

Containment Testing

When you have a flooded garden, test for containments like sewage, hydrocarbons, pesticides, organic and inorganic chemicals, and unforeseen pollutants should be done before nutrient testing.

Testing for soil nutrients should list the lack of nutrients.

If your soil is contaminated, you must remove or remediate the soil contamination problems. Failure to do so will result in those chemicals and toxins in your food supply.

Removal, if necessary, of any soil toxins has been completed. Next, test your soil for nutrient depletion.

Soil Testing

After the soil has dried out from your once flooded garden, perform a nutrient soil test. Be sure to request the nutrients needed to restore your growing medium to homeostasis.

Soil test results should note how many nutrients (nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, micronutrients, microorganisms) must be applied.

Nutrient Application

Apply the missing nutrients according to the soil test recommendations. It can take upward of a couple of years to have a productive garden.

Do not apply nutrients when the ground is waterlogged. During the fall rains, the excess runoff will flow added nutrients into the natural drainage system and migrate through the soil column. This process is a common cause of stream, lake, and groundwater toxicity and algae blooms.

Spring Nutrient Application

If you are lucky enough to get the soil test back in early summer, the tests should provide the needed nutrients and amounts to apply to your once flooded garden. However, cold weather will slow the biological breakdown of the applied nutrients.

If you added the nutrients in the fall to your garden, the spring rains and snowmelt would continue the process of soil nutrient loss. So adding nutrients in the spring might be the smart move.

The biological processes will take a while to catch up, enriching the soil in the summer. Late crop planting may be all you can expect for next year. Next year pay attention to the number of days to plant maturity.

Earth Worms aka Red Wigglers

As a result of the flooded garden, you see the mass evacuation of the soil worms. Due to the flooding, the worms can’t live in the soil anymore. You see them drowned everywhere. Their bodies cover the streets, walkways, and even your garage floor.

Earthworms dig holes in the soil so oxygen can enter. They consume certain bacteria and excrete concentrated nutrients in their castings. Yes, you can add soluble nutrients to offset the nutrients worms provide.

Earthworms are perhaps the best indicator of soil health. Worms will not stay where conditions are not favorable. The worms thrive in contaminate free organic materials.

Using soluble nutrients will necessitate that lack of plant-to-bacteria interaction and result in bacteria and worms that feed upon them leaving your garden.

Fungi

Wet conditions from a flooded garden makes for the right conditions for certain harmful fungi, shotgun, or artillery fungi that can destroy your garden plants. Harmful fungi commonly feed on dead plant material in or near the soil surface. Fungi will develop on your plants and penetrate your fruits.

Due to the water saturation effect, the good fungi that transport nutrients from source to plant to plant will also disappear. Mycorrhizal fungi create symbolic relationships with 90% of the earth’s plants.

The need to add aerobic microbial organisms to your garden soil is imperative. Soil test results should list the kinds and amounts of microorganisms needed.

For most of the flood areas in the country, most likely, your garden will take at least one year or more to recover.

home protection missed the flooded garden
home protection missed the flooded garden
corn flooded garden farm
corn flooded garden farm
poison
poison
soil testing apparatus ph level test
soil testing apparatus ph level test
soil fertilizing, ph level testing
soil fertilizing, ph level testing
red wrigglers
red wrigglers
artillery fungus
artillery fungus

Solution I

Kiss next year’s flooded garden goodbye.

The recovery process is long, expensive, and time-consuming. Mitigation of floodwater contamination takes several specific steps.

Soil Testing

You will need to do a soil test for both nutrients and microorganisms. While waiting for the results you need to sterilize the soil to ensure what comes after provides the chance for a successful garden.

Sterilizing your garden soil

Sterilize the soil with clear, 1 to 2 mm plastic sheeting. Warm days (summer heat) accomplish the sterilization process faster. Cold temperatures often result in an extended recovery process.

soil solarization cropped
soil solarization cropped

Test Results

Soil and microorganism tests will guide you to the next steps after sterilization. You will need to add the correct amounts of both the nutrients and the microorganisms the test results indicate.

The next step in adding the nutrients and the microorganisms will be to integrate them into your soil column. There are many processes to add needed nutrients and microorganisms into your soil. I stick to two methods.

soil testing apparatus ph level test
soil testing apparatus ph level test

Tilling the Soil

Spread the nutrients and microorganisms onto the soil surface. Then, rototill them into the soil column. This process will take at least one day, if not more.

It may take months for the microorganisms and nutrients to re-populate the soil sufficiently to become a successful growing medium.

Another method is to mix nutrients and microorganisms with compost and Straw. Evenly spread the mixture on the surface of the garden and water. Disperse the mixture several inches deep and chlorine-free water.

Compost

All compost is not the same. The state should test the compost and certify it is safe. Ask for the compost material datasheet to confirm the claims.

The material data sheet should detail the compost ingredients and their concentrations. Move on If they do not have the material data sheet.

The material data sheet should contain both contaminants and fitness for use. If the supplier cannot produce the material data sheet, move on. Mark them down as an unusable source in your garden book.

A note about Straw

The Straw’s main component is carbon, a primary plant growth and health element.

Straw is broken down through the microbial decomposition process releasing carbon.

Carbon enriches the soil along with nutrients.

You will spend a lot of money on soil and microorganism tests, nutrients, microorganisms, clear plastic to cover exposed soil, compost, and Straw when planting. Plus, the amount of your cash on seeds, seedlings, potting soil, and other numerous items.

Your vegetable garden may need to wait another year before growing your fruits and vegetables.

Solution II

Once your flooded garden starts to dry out, the evaporation, contaminated chemicals can migrate upward into your soil. Water will move from a high concentration to a drier environment. An example of the concept would be a burning candle. The flame of the candle melts the wax and in turn the wax flows up the wick to be burned.

Using The Tuxedo Gardener raised bed system provides a method to keep your new growing medium from coming into direct contact with your soil.

An abundance of heavy-duty cardboard from appliances and furniture will make an excellent barrier between the old and new growing medium.

The cardboard will also keep the weed from growing up through the growing medium.

Find some uncontaminated building materials you can use to construct raised beds if possible. Creating a raised bed between 28″ to 30″ high works best. A higher-raised bed offers many benefits over the lower ones.

  • Eliminates a lot of ground-level efforts to prep, plant, maintain, and harvest.
  • Ensure you have adequate drainage from the bed’s sides and bottom. Excess water may sit at the bottom of the raised bed, creating a flood-like event.
  • Taller raised beds to afford the ability to utilize row covers without needing the row cover to be mounted to the ground.


To see how this all works, the book The Tuxedo Gardener, available on Amazon.com, has a detailed system to make urban farming economical.
The Tuxedo Gardening System is less labor-intensive in construction, weeding, and maintaining your garden. The materials suggested will offer you another method to construct your raised bed.

You will quit gardening using the methods you used before.

Once you get your new raised bed operational, you never want to go back to what you have been doing before.

Next year you should have the best garden you ever had without all the effort and expenses you would have spent playing in the dirt.
There should be little to no weeding of the garden. Watering is on a timed drip system. The system retains water while releasing excessive water.

Using organic teas to energize your garden like no other. It will be the only fertilizer you need to grow humongous plants with large quantities of fruits and vegetables.

The remaining growing medium after the season makes the best potting soil for other plants and next year’s seedlings. You will be amazed at so many wins with this system you will never look back.

gooden middle
gooden middle
cropped 2016 05 01 10.06.11 1024x532 1
Romain Lettuce in a 4' x 8' x 30" Raised Bed mid-May at the 45th Parallel
rasied bed
4' x 8' x 28" Raised Bed ready for planting