The El Niño weather pattern that settled over the Pacific last summer and brought desperately needed rain isn’t quite done with southeast Texas just yet. There’s more wetness ahead, though not in the amounts seen over the last two weeks.
While water is a good for your lawn and garden, excessive amounts of it can wreak as much havoc as drought. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to limit the destruction that too much late spring rain can cause.
- Turn off your irrigation system
If you have an automatic irrigation system, make sure to shut it down when rain is in the forecast. This is particularly important because excess moisture can remove oxygen from the soil and drown roots. Also be sure to check your plants after rain to see if they are wilting and/or have signs of leaf scorching. These conditions are especially common in the hot weather that follows rainstorms.
- Avoid the mud
Consider putting down mulch between rows of plants so you can walk around your garden. You can also put down boards in your garden when the dirt is soaked. Either of these methods will help lessen soil compaction, which occurs when you walk directly on muddy areas. Remember, too, to wait until the soil has dried out before working in your garden.
- Combat soil compaction
A good way to combat soil compaction is to aerate the soil in and around your garden by using a core aerator. This tool removes small plugs in the soil and eases compaction. You can also hand-aerate by using a wooden or metal dowel rod to make holes.
- Mind the insects
Abundant rain brings out hungry slugs that will feed on both living and decaying plants. You can get rid of them by handpicking them out of your plants or setting up special slug traps. If you choose the former option, you can drown slugs in soapy water, smash them, spray them with 5 or 10 percent diluted ammonia.
- Beware standing water
Be aware that disease can spread from standing water to any produce you may be growing in your garden. Also, if you notice that plants in your garden have yellowed, do not eat any fruit or vegetables from them. And if water that has been contaminated with sewage or animal manure has seeped into your garden, do not consume fruits or vegetables that have come in contact with it.