Wait, what am I saying?! This is Oklahoma, where we cherish every drop we can get. Yet this year we have been blessed/cursed with an abundance of the wet stuff. This rainy weather has been going on since October or November without our soil drying out in between. Our trees and shrubs received much needed moisture during the cold weather, insuring a healthier start to Spring than they normally get. But is this a blessing in disguise, or a curse from the garden gnome king?
Mud, muck, and mire. We usually think mulch, manure, and more mulch! Oklahomans are not used to being around this much water except at the lake on Labor Day. In fact, as I type this, we are getting even more rain! We will have to think outside of the box to survive this wet, soggy spring!
We gardeners are highly frustrated about the mud and muck that we normally call our garden. Here’s the good and bad about what we are up against.
Vegetable gardens are getting a much later start this year due to the unusual cool spring, so our crops will be harvested later. Good, because it gives us time for more planning and learning; bad, because our cool crops like cabbage, lettuce, and carrots will likely bolt before they are fully mature. Our tomato plants are drowning as well.
The leaves of our spring flowering bulbs are still green instead of turning yellow. Good, because they are soaking in all the sun they can to be even stronger and more beautiful than this year. Bad, because if it stays too wet they may rot, leaving us to wonder if we plant more this fall, or be patient (HAH!) and see what happens next spring.
Trees and shrubs are pretty much fully leafed out. Good, because they are happily sucking in as much moisture as they can in case we have a hot, dry summer. Bad, because they may put on too much foliage to support and have the more tender leaves scorch and drop off when it finally heats up. Late note, the week of May 13 I noticed some leaf drop when it was in the upper 80’s, and not very windy.)
Perennials may or may not show signs of problems…yet. Good, because they are putting on a fantastic show for us. Bad, because root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot diseases may be trying to damage them.
Tips and tricks for this problem? Build a few drainage ditches to prevent owning swampland. Consider building a few raised beds you’ve heard so much about. Take pictures of your garden areas after a heavy rain, and study them for low spots. Seek to fill them this summer or correct the initial problem. (runoff from roof or neighbor’s yard.)
One idea is to invest in rain barrels. They may be expensive, so just get one to start. These wonderful things attach to your downspouts and save valuable moisture for later. Mosquitoes may try to breed in them, but a few goldfish from the pet store will eat all the larvae and also put a small amount of fertilizer in your irrigation water!
Hopefully we will return to our “normal” weather pattern soon, and can go back to good old unpredictable