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Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

Storm Recovery

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

Our recent rain event clearly caused some problems in the yard with ponding, temporary water flow through or around our plantings, soil erosion around our down spouts and more. Established lawns deal with surface flow pretty well as long as the flow remains well behaved. Lots of water over a long time or water with a force can eventually break through the lawn and begin to erode the soil. The thousands of gallons of water coming off the roof and focused by the downspouts is an easy example. Another spot in the yard that may need repair will be the edged areas between a bed and lawn where the water naturally gathers and then with more rainfall begins to seek out places to move to. This sets up the potential for erosion.

For nearly every gardener, there will be lots of debris to collect from the yard. Mulch has either floated or forcefully moved into the lawn to any area where the water found a place to go. Once the yard dries out enough to get out there, rake the mulch and soil back into the bed if you can. Stay on the lawn and do not try to get into any of your beds, they are going to be way too wet and muddy and all you are going to do is ruin soil structure. If you rake up material that is not going back into a bed and is suitable to be composted, then do that. As the water continues to move out of your yard, then you will see where those low spots are that can be addressed later. In the lawn, these are the spots where disease can be frequent. Low spots in perennial or vegetable beds can mean root rots and poor growth.

If you have to go ahead and get early crops into the garden like potato seed pieces or peas, spinach, lettuces or radishes, consider placing seed just on the soil surface and covering with some dry potting soil or sand and not disturb the soil. For those potatoes seed pieces, disturb the soil as little as possible and cover them using dry soil as well. Our weather is still too cool for our other transplants so leave them in the cold frame until the garden soil dries and we have warmer temperatures. One thing the rain did do is to lower the soil temperatures again, so any gain we had was erased with the water. Wet soils warm more slowly.

All we can do is wait for the yard to dry out before tackling any major project that involves working the soil.

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