I have been looking at lots of cheap land in Ireland over the last few months. Most of the cheap plots are in the west of the country and are very peaty and waterlogged often to the extent of outright bog in parts. But where it's not bog it is very waterlogged with lots of rushes growing.
This summer has been one of the wettest on records so you get a clear picture of what the land is like all year round. The soil looks very dark has huge amounts of organic matter in it. But the water is stopping or slowing down the decomposition process and keeping out oxygen and i would imagine it would be acidic. On paper it would seam like good base for veg growing once the water level was dropped. Am I missing something as most of the land is just used for summer grazing of young cattle?
Gone through a lot of permaculture literature and have not come across this particular type of land or any real discussion on drainage. It's all focused on catching and sinking water.
Any ideas for permaculture approaches to this type of land or ways of drainage where i am not losing all my nutrients ?
When I did my PDC, we discussed very briefly a technique that could be applied in wetlands, where you'd basically built stripes of raised beds in a marsh area, leaving untouched stripes in between. The idea was to build them with some kind of fences with posts that would go deep enough for good stability, then fill them up and plant trees along the edges that would build a root system and keep the soil together, and in between the trees, plant vegetables. Obviously this would be appropriate for species that thrive on pretty humid soil.
We grew on some pretty peaty mountain land near Sneem in Kerry and we made the most of what the locals called 'turtogs', the mounds of sod originally built up I believe by ants to get themselves dry. We planted all our trees on them, especially important for apples.
The chinampa model would work well indeed for crops needing it a little less wet. We also took advantage of the climate though by growing a great crop of watercress in the stream (someone brought some to us from a local shop & we just plonked it in the stream). We also juiced (with a hand powered device) a lot of the grass that grew lush with all the rainfall.
Peaty land will be pretty acidic though, so looking into plants like the Vacciniums (blueberries etc.) that like those conditions is a good strategy. Wet soils often leach nutrients quickly too, so you'd need to manage that. Scottish hill farmer Bruce Marshall doubled his yield from his upland boggy land by a simple strategy. He applied rock phosphate to address a mineral deficiency, then lime to increase the pH to a place where clover & earthworms could survive. He then sowed clover seed over the existing vegetation and brought in some worms from down in the valley. The clover then fixed atmospheric nitrogen in the system and the earthworms kept the soil from drifting back to a more acidic state. Clever chap!