UNLESS you smugly dug in early autumn chances are you have not been able to get on your veg plot yet...

Gardening is all about preparation, anticipation, satisfaction and – sadly – frustration.

Forgive me if this sounds granny egg-sucky but there is a way around the rain torrents which have turned most veg plots into sticky, frustrating, morasses.

My daughter, Roseanna, has just recently acquired an allotment in Southampton which has not been cultivated in a long while and it is not physically possible, or desirable, for her or her partner to turn over soggy clods of turf in preparation for planting.

She has employed a large expanse of weed suppressant mat to kill the grass in preparation for the end of the great flood.

In tandem with her efforts, I too am creating a new veg patch on virgin ground and there is a tip to both improve the soil, and shelter it from further rain until I can get to it later in winter, or early spring.

I have long been a fan of seaweed and that, or horse manure, can be spread over the area and covered with corrugated sheet, old carpet, or a tarpaulin in preparation.

When conditions dry out, which they surely will, it will be possible – wearing wellies – to incorporate the manure while digging over the now dead turf which will have been starved of light and oxygen.

Keep your fingers crossed for winter storms, because without those seaweed will the scarce on the beaches. Luckily, there is no shortage of free horse muck on our Island...

There should still be time to employ the technique in time for the new season of optimism.

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