31 May GARDENING DURING THE RAINY SEASON
Whether you live in an area with predictable seasonal rains, or you’re simply experiencing rain unusual for your region, gardening during a rainy season or wet spell requires special attention to detail. From protecting your plants and soil to avoiding undue damage with maintenance, here’s what you need to know to keep that gardening spirit — and your garden! — thriving during the rainy season.
First Things First
The first consideration, of course, is where you live — are you in an area of predictable rainy weather (the Pacific northwest or tropical Florida)? If so, you probably already know to plant those plants in your garden that can handle the consistent moisture — no agaves for you, sorry! If you live in an area with less regular rainfall, but the rain tends to come in “events” with flooding (parts of Texas or Oklahoma, for example), you’ll simply need to be aware of when sudden rains are coming in order to batten down the hatches.
Desert climates like Arizona or parts of California don’t usually see much rain, and the rest of the country typically experiences periodic episodes of rain without it causing many issues.
Protecting the Garden During Rainy Seasons
1.Take precautions ahead of time. If hurricane season is upon you or you’re simply expecting a big storm, go out into your garden and take some basic precautions. Prune any dead or diseased tree limbs that are vulnerable to breaking in high winds, be sure to stake any plants that may fall over with heavy rain, and cover any tender plants to avoid irreparable damage (a hoop and tarp works great). If you regularly amend your soil so that it has adequate drainage, good for you! Gold stars on your gardening chart! Your soil will likely absorb the rain well. Not sure if you have drainage issues? When the rain stops, go outside and observe any puddling of water – if those puddles stay for hours or even a day or so, you’ve got issues that need to be resolved.
2. Clean up after a storm. Get those downed limbs cut and removed as soon as possible. Inspect your garden for signs of damage – prune broken stems, remove fallen fruit from the ground, look for exposed roots and cover them with soil, and be on the lookout for signs of slugs and snails. Those critters can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time.
3. Keep track of weekly rainfall. Most plants need about one inch of irrigation a week, so if your rainfall is averaging more
than that, be sure your irrigation system is turned off. Better yet, have a rain sensor installed on your automatic system so it turns off in the event of rain. There’s nothing that bugs me quite as much as seeing water spraying out over a lawn in the middle of a rainfall.
4. Avoid working in the soil when it’s too saturated. While digging in moist soil is usually fine, avoid doing heavy soil work when it’s a muddy mess. Doing so creates huge clumps as it dries, making the soil hard and impenetrable — effectively destroying the soil texture and disrupting drainage. After a big rainfall or storm, let the ground dry out for a couple days before doing any significant planting.
5. Watch out for plantings underneath drip lines. If you don’t have gutters and rainwater downspouts on your house, you’ll need to be aware of plantings down below that may be pounded by roof runoff. I avoid putting container plants or large plantings directly below these areas — they will simply be torn apart or beaten down when that water sheets off the edge of the roof.
See Also: WATERWISE GARDENING