We all expect a few showers in April; however these last few weeks we’ve been afforded with more rain than we’ve seen all winter, making this the wettest drought in history.
We know that natural rainwater is the best thirst quencher for our plants, but too much of a good thing can also hinder their progress and make us frustrated after we see our hard work unravel.
Herbs in particular despise a water logged soil, enjoying a free draining position, they soon wilt when sat in puddles, and as the month drifts into May, we notice the weeds are multiplying at an incredible rate however unless we love getting wet we’re quite powerless to do anything about it. Keeping garden paths and patios clear of moss, dandelions and runner grass seems like an impossible task as even the best weed killers need a few dry days in order to work their magic.
As the weeds seem to flourish in this constant monsoon though, just how are the rest of our plants fairing up?
Many gardeners love the promise of May as this is the month when indoor sowings can be planted outside with little threat of frost, but as one rainy day drifts into another it seems that a garden full of bedding plants, tomatoes and Mediterranean herbs is a long way off. You can of course plant out in pots, using broken ceramic or old pots to add extra drainage. This is an ideal solution for some as it allows you to control the moisture without worrying about waterlogged ground.
Established plants are at risk of drowning, and symptoms are quite easy to spot. A waterlogged plant will not be able to receive oxygen through the roots as the water suffocates from below. Surprisingly a waterlogged plant appears exactly the same as a plant that needs water. The leaves will turn yellow before wilting and dying and once at this stage not much can be done.
Prevention is Better Than The Cure
You can of course prevent this; waterlogged soil is easy to spot due to the puddles that form. You can create channels for drainage allowing the natural distribution of water away from the plants. You can also fork around the plant and add nutrients during the growing season. When we finally do see some sunnier weather make sure you keep up with watering. Plants that are used to drying out with not cope with the added rainfall as well as those who are watered daily during the summer.
The Cure All
If the plant is already showing signs of ill health, the best route to take is to remove it completely. You may notice some blackened roots that have a distinct methane odour, trim these away to encourage new growth. Plant in pots with a good compost full of nutrients, and allow free draining through the method mentioned above, and then cross your fingers that your pet perennial will shoot back to life.
As soil becomes heavy with rainfall it’s important to be aware of compaction, this is a farmer’s nemesis when growing crops, but it applies in the garden too. Try not to walk on lawns or around flower beds for the duration of the rain and if you must wear special spiked shoes to add aeration to the soil.