Raindrops on Red Russian Kale leaves Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden – Cerena
When you build your garden, make raised beds, mounds, berms for water capture. Install channels to help with drainage issues.
Mulch sloped areas to hold water in place to soak in, and keep soil from eroding. Keep every drop on your property for trees and to improve our water table. Remember, slow, spread, sink.
Make ‘permanent’ pathways with boards, stepping stones, straw bedding, so you won’t be compacting your planting area soil when it is wet or dry! Best is to lay down straw then put a board or two side by side on top. This holds the straw in place, in case of winds, and the straw will feed your soil for good spring planting.
Set up to harvest rainwater for later use, even if it is just putting out containers and buckets here and there!
Way ahead of time, plant for air circulation so foliage dries quickly. Plants too closely spaced, make a warmer micro environment, mildew easier. Choose mildew resistant varieties!
Keep a Weather Watch!
- Mulch! Lay down some straw to avoid mud splatter on lettuce leaves, fruits clean, up off soggy ground, above the insect soil level zone. Insects stay safe below the mulch, don’t venture above where predators and birds can get them.
- Lay down fertilizer before a rain so the fertilizer will soak in.
- Dig in compost and castings in the top few inches of your soil. When the rain comes, it’s like making compost and worm tea all at once in place. They improve your soil’s water holding capacity.
- Take the cover off your compost to let it get wet. Or cover it to keep it dry and warm and in steady decomposition.
- Tie or stake plants that may topple from wind or water weight.
- Planting! For planting seeds, it depends on whether it matters where they will end up. For example, a green manure cover crop needs no formal rows or placements. If you want a plant where you put it, might be good to wait until after the rain. Near-the-surface seeds, or small seeds, ones not so hard and heavy as buckwheat, can be uncovered or buried, washed away or likely rot if they get in a puddle. Bean seeds can rot, virtually dissolve, in a couple days. Plant delicate transplants ASAP just after rain. If it’s a heavy rain, wait, so your plants don’t literally drown. Plant just after the rain. The sun will warm up the soil and off they will go!
During a rainy period….
- If you didn’t before, if it’s a light rain, get out there in your rain gear and add some manure or fertilizer! Great excuse to play in the rain! Otherwise, no digging in saturated soil. It destroys soil structure that soil organisms make and need, stops oxygen flow the soil needs.
- Check frequently to see how your plants are doing. Secure any tall plants, trellises that need it.
- If a plant is too low and in standing water, raise it. Put your shovel deep under it, so not to harm the roots, push some filler soil underneath the shovel!
- Add more mulch to sloped areas if it has shifted or isn’t quite deep enough.
- Be sure your wormbox worms are not doing the backstroke! I cover mine with plastic INSIDE the worm box. Any water either runs down the sides and out the bottom or puddles on the plastic. Easy to remove.
- If the compost heap is wet enough now, cover it.
- Rebuild any drainage channel that has weakened, clear if clogged. Rebuild water capture berms that have slumped. Level out areas that puddle.
- Make sure all your rain harvest system is working well. Kudos to you for harvesting!
- Practice arm-chair gardening! Read garden books, magazines, browse web sites, buy some seeds from mail-order catalogs, design your new garden layout!
- Get some seeds, soilless potting mix, gather containers with, or make, drainage holes. Start some seeds!
- If the rain is prolonged, uh, do an aphid, snail and slug check as frequently as you can. Sluggo works on snails and slugs even when it is wet. Hard to believe, but, yes, it does.
- If the rain is prolonged, do harvest your fresh and crunchy produce! Lettuces will flourish!
- Check on fast maturing broccoli and cauliflower heads to cut at peak maturity! Gather your luscious strawberries. Keep your peas/beans picked to keep them coming!
After the rain! YES!
- Be ready to weed! Do some dust mulching. It is simply soil cultivation to about 2 or 3 inches deep. Cultivation disturbs the soil surface and interrupts the wicking of soil moisture from below to the surface and losing it to evaporation. Do it after rains or irrigating. It’s commonly done by dry farmers, especially now in California’s drought.
- Do some thinning for air circulation as makes sense. Often there is a growth spurt, and you can see where thinning is needed.
- Repair areas where soil has washed away exposing roots, carrot or beet tops.
- Repair any berms or terracing, level out high/low spots. Clear clogged drains.
- Do what you do about snails and slugs. Keep checking for aphids – blast them away with water or remove infested leaves.
- There is often more gopher activity after rain has softened the soil, so be ready! Here’s all about gophers and how to set Macabee traps! OR, now that the soil is softened, install a 1/2″ hardware cloth wire barrier! Tips on Installing your Barrier!
- Harvest first, water second! That’s the rule to keep from spreading diseases spread by moisture.
- It’s often warmer after a rain, and it is the warmth that mildew loves! Drench mildew susceptible plants with your mildew mix immediately, early in the day so your plants can dry. If you prune mildewed areas off, remove those prunings, wash your hands and pruners before you go on to other plants. Water less frequently and at ground level, not overhead.
Easy homemade MIX for mildew prevention and abatement. It works for certain other diseases too! Be sure to spray up under leaves as well.
- Heaping tablespoon of baking soda
- 1/4 cup of nonfat (so it won’t rot and stink) powdered milk
- 1/2 teaspoon dish soap
- In a large watering can of water, preferably with a long spout so you can get into the plant
Remember, here in SoCal, a light rain may not begin to wet your soil, not even a 1/4″ deep! Always do the old finger test to see what’s what. Sometimes you need to water after a rain!
Somehow, rainwater seems different than hose water! Plants just jump right out of the ground! Enjoy!
The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for our SoCal Santa Barbara CA USA, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara city community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are in a fog belt/marine layer area most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!