Press-Republican

Columns

July 8, 2013

Wet weather, slow season

Home gardeners and commercial growers continue to struggle with this ongoing wet, cloudy weather pattern. Our plants need a stretch of clear, sunny weather to dry things out and put on some sturdy new growth. 

Raised beds are a big help this year with their improved drainage, but there’s nothing a gardener can do to provide more sunshine. However, here are some suggestions to help your plants endure:

The ground is so saturated now that there’s nowhere for the water from these daily rains to go. Anything you can do to draw water away from your gardens will help. Dig a temporary ditch to let puddles drain, build a soil berm to divert water from draining toward your garden, and make plans to build more raised beds in the future.

Wet, cloudy weather promotes leaf growth, and many plants have become very lush. This dense foliage is prone to fungal diseases. Opening things up to promote air circulation so the leaves can dry quickly will help. Some of my lettuce looks nice from above, but it is rotting at the base. I need to thin these beds out by removing at least every other plant. In my perennial garden, I need to remove more of the “volunteers” that popped up this spring. Columbine, poppies, Johnny jump-ups and calendula are some that are crowding out my more valuable perennials.

Some of my taller perennials have flopped over in the rain. Staking them before they flop will help them keep their good looks and prevent them from crowding out their neighbors. I didn’t get to my delphinium before it sagged, but as soon as its flowers fade, I’ll cut the entire flower stalk to the ground. This will give the neighbors more room while the mother plant pushes out new foliage and more flower stalks for a late summer bloom.

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