Last year's record-setting wet weather presented various challenges in lawns and gardens. If 2019 is another wet year, you may need to consider various ways to cope with the excess moisture.

The main problems related to heavy rain are prolonged cloudy weather and garden soil becoming saturated with water. Leaves wilt and growth comes to a halt when the soil is so full of water that no space is available for air.

To prevent that from happening, you can mix liberal amounts of compost, sphagnum peat moss, pine bark and other forms of organic matter into your soil before planting. These materials improve soil drainage and aeration, making a healthy environment for roots.

Never mix sand with your clay soil in an effort to improve drainage. That will make it resemble something like concrete.

Another way to improve drainage is by making raised beds. They have the added advantage of being user-friendly for gardeners with mobility issues.

Raised bed gardens may be framed with lumber or other materials. Their height ranges from one to three feet, and you can fill them with a mixture of soil and compost.

You can also make raised beds with a rake, shovel and hoe. Framing is not needed on these more temporary beds.

Planting in hills may be worth a try. These mounds of soil have better drainage and aeration than flat ground, and they are often used for crops such as corn, bean, cucumber, squash, melon and pumpkin.

Wet leaves develop more blight diseases than dry leaves. To promote drying after a rain or dew, you could grow your cucumbers, pole beans, tomatoes and other crops upward on a trellis, stake or wire cage to give them a position where their leaves will have the air circulation needed to promote drying after rain or dew.

Fertilizers with their nitrogen in a slow release form will last longer than ordinary fertilizers when there is frequent rain. This includes organic fertilizers and those with a sulfur or polymer coating like Osmocote.

Selecting the right plants to grow takes on extra importance during a wet year. This is particularly true of tomatoes.

Many kinds of bacteria and fungi cause diseases in tomato plants and most of them are worse in a rainy season. Your best defense is to plant tomato varieties known for their vigor and resistance to disease.

Seed catalogs and websites are the places to learn about tomato disease resistance. Any tomatoes resistant to early blight, late blight and fusarium wilt are good to try during a wet season.

If planting new roses is on your spring to-do list, be sure to select rose varieties with resistance to black spot disease. It is the main threat to rose health in a wet season.

Knock Out roses are just a few of the many black spot resistant roses you can plant. To learn about the others, you could refer to specialty rose catalogs from Weeks, Edmunds, David Austin and Jackson and Perkins.

Load comments