Water And Its Control
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The importance of having the garden well drained is not half appreciated. Of course, if the land is naturally Well drained there would be no necessity of doing the thing artificially. But if the land is low or pockety, it is likely to need draining. While water is necessary to crop growing, excess of water is a detriment in several conspicuous ways.
First, the soil is sure to be cold and wet in spring and consequently late, second, it is likely to become dry and to bake during summer, because the water has evaporated, and thus the crops suffer for lack; third, it may become sour and filled with weeds difficult to eradicate, and for both these reasons it would be hard for cultivated plants to get along.
Drainage takes away excess water, makes the soil warmer and earlier, removes the cause of sourness, but, most important of all, it prevents the baking of the soil during summer. In fact, in this Iast direction it positively increases the amount of water available to the plants during hot and rain-less weather, for it insures a steady water flow from below toward the surface beneath which it may easily be held by good methods of tillage.
Upon a somewhat larger scale than the ordinary home garden is the following experience which illustrates not only the importance of good drainage, but a simple method of laying tile. Joseph Rennie of Lake county, Illinois, writes :
" I have 15 acres of land devoted to the raising of vegetables, and five acres of that area are drained. My first attempts at draining were a failure. The reason for this I afterward found to be that I had placed the tile only 2 feet deep, and the water never drained out, so that the ground above the tile was dry. An old farmer said to me: 'It isn't the surface water that spoils your crop, it is the suck water.'
"I relaid all the tile 3 1/2 feet deep in the shallowest places, and as much as 6 feet deep in some of the other places. I got a good fall, and all of the tile is below the frost line. I think the frost does not hurt the tile, even when it is not below the frost line, provided the water can all flow out and not get frozen up in the tile. If it freezes in the tile, the tile will go to pieces.
" Part of my tile is laid in quicksand, but it has given me no trouble. In laying in quicksand it is only necessary to get a smooth surface on which to lay the tile, and then pack in around it with the surface soil. The quicksand taken out of the ditch can be used to cover over the top of the surface soil. Some of my neighbors in laying tile in quicksand cover the joints with tarred paper, fearing that the sand will run in around the joints and fill up the tile, but I believe little sand goes in.
" My soil is a sandy loam, and I lay my lines of tile 30 feet apart. Some of my neighbors who have a heavy clay soil lay their lines about a rod apart. My method differs in that I run all of my lines parallel to each other, and each line empties into an open ditch. The other way is to lay one main line of, say, 8-inch tile and have a large number of laterals, consisting of 4-inch tiles. But the trouble with that comes at the joints. It requires a great deal of close figuring to get the right levels for all these laterals and the main line. Practically the levels over the whole field have to be worked out, or there will be trouble. To get a good job with that system requires the skill of a drainage engineer. With my system each line is by itself, and its levels are the only ones that have to be considered. I can do that figuring myself. One of my lines was 400 feet long, and had but a 5-inch fall, but the levels for it were about perfect."