Water is always good for plants, or is it? Water logged plants can get rotten roots, soil can be impacted if it is walked on when sodden, making it hard to sow new seedlings and newly grown plants can be vulnerable with long shoots and no support. It’s not a complete horror story however, as in a few weeks time, after all this rain we have been getting, our countryside is about to burst forth with an explosion of blossoms, foliage and luscious blooms, the like we have not see for years. So with a little preparation and forward thinking, we can clear the swamp that has become our garden, take remedial action and ensure our plants will recover from the recent deluge. Check out our top tips for gardeners:
The first issue is to avoid standing on sodden ground to stop compacting it. Wet soil compacts easily when you walk on it and this stops drainage and also prevents the roots from growing. Put long planks along the edges and across the middle of areas that you need to work on.
You now need to remove standing or stagnant water that has pooled in areas of your garden. Plants can survive for around 24 hours in standing water but after that, root damage can occur if the water remains. Try draining the water or scooping it away. If it will not drain then make a temporary trench for the water to pool into away from the plants.
You will find tons of new shoots springing up all over your garden but the lack of sunlight has made them weak and lanky. Rescue them with supports by gently tying them using soft string. Keep an eye out for weeds that are fast growing as these will strangle baby shoots far faster than they can grow.
Watch out for slugs and snails; this is ideal weather for those slimy pests so take them to task with either pellets or, once the rain has stopped, make them a couple of ‘beer gardens’. To do this leave out a saucer of cheap beer (don’t waste the good stuff) and watch the molluscs make a bee line for it.
Containers may have stagnant water in them so have a look at their drainage holes and unblock them if this needs doing. If the compost inside them is particularly water logged you may have to replace it and start again with fresh.
If you have seeds that need to be sown in April and May, do not sow them into water logged soil, rather wait until the earth becomes a little warm and crumbly, or sow them inside. New plants can go into wet soil but give them a boost with a couple of handfuls of good compost as well to make sure the roots get off to a good start.
Despite all the wet weather, we may still get a frost in May so keep protecting vulnerable new plants with cloches or fleece or keep vegetables such as courgettes, runner beans etc in the green house before they go outside. And although we still have another week or so of wet weather, remember we are still officially in a drought so always reserve your water for the future and still use ‘grey’ water for house plants.