- coffee grinds
- well-rotted bark chippings/clippings, preferably from evergreens (well rotted to avoid nitrogen robbery)
- oak leaf mold
- pine needles
The strawberry bed a year ago before I took on the plot,
now an acidic soil raised bed!
Blueberries and cranberries also like it really damp but well-drained around their roots, so all these organic materials help hold in the water. All of the above materials can also be used (once rotted) as a mulch to top up the acidity of the soil, and retain moisture. Be cautious using tap water on these plants too, as it can be quite alkaline - better to collect and use rainwater.
Hugelkultur would probably be a very advantageous method in this case too, to maintain/improve moisture levels- I have some rotting fallen branches from my oak tree, so might try burying them between the plants...I'll be adding some heather later as both a bee-friendly plant and as another indicator if the soil pH becomes too near neutral.
So go peat-free! There are plenty of cheap/free alternatives out there, please experiment. And I'll report back on how this bed gets on next year... :o)
[On another note, the lowered pathways webbed across the plot and back-filled with chipped bark are doing a fabulous job of absorbing excess water (whilst poor neighbours' plots are swimming). The excess path material was used to raise the growing areas of the allotment. Using wood chippings for pathways rather than carpet etc is a natural way to encourage beneficial invertebrates and boosts organic mater/nutrients on the plot, whilst keeping weeds down.]