All gardens need enough moisture but heavy rainfall or storms can be a challenge especially for terrace / balcony gardening. Following are the some of the common issues that rain bring to your garden:
- waterlogged plants
- Erosion of soil nutrients
- pest and disease problems
These are some of the must to do in a garden to help avoid these issues …
Good Drainage: Elevate your garden by planting in raised beds or mounds that will prevent waterlogged plant roots and anaerobic soil. Grow in containers and use vertical systems such as window boxes, wall mounted or railing planters, pots on ladders and plant stands which all drain well and also they can be easily moved under shade.
Dig a Trench : Rather than wasting valuable rainwater in heavy downpours and paying for water when it’s dry, harvest it by redirecting water to where you need it most. By making a trench, they passively harvest water by slowing it down and allowing it to sit in a shallow trench to soak into the soil. They are also useful for harvesting water for plants like bananas and fruit trees which can be planted on top of the mounds.
Add Organic Matter to your Soil: A good soil structure helps the excess moisture drain away. Adequate soil humus holds moisture like a sponge where the plants need it and is a buffer to plants under stress. It’s even more important to add organic matter like manures, leaf mould, grass clippings, compost and other mulches to heavy clay soils that become waterlogged easily and crack when dry. Adding gypsum to heavy compacted clay soils will help break them up.
Give Pests a Hard Time: Slugs and snails thrive in wet weather and hence growing vertically makes it an uphill climb deterrent! If slugs and snails have to climb a high rise for breakfast, they’re exposed so it’s much easier for birds to see their next meal! Also sprinkle crushed eggshells around the base of delicate seedlings – the sharp edges are like a ‘bed of nails’ for their soft slimy tummies and extremely effective at keeping them away until young plants are established. Baked on a tray in a slow oven for 10 minutes, the eggshells become very hard and crunch perfectly into large shards in your hand.
Use Mulch: A layer of mulch helps you take advantage of free rainwater as it helps retain vital moisture in the soil. Other benefits are that it also reduces splashing which encourages plant diseases and prevents soil erosion by providing a buffer.
Slow Release Fertilizer: Feeding your soil with powdered organic fertilizers will help retain nutrients in your soil and replenish those lost to leaching during heavy rain. The more humus you have in your soil, the less leaching will occur as it helps bind minerals.
A foliar spray of liquid seaweed is a good standby tonic to help plants bounce back quickly.
Harvest Your Food Crops Regularly: Pick edible plants promptly in humid wet weather because the longer produce stays on the vine or stalk, the higher the likelihood of spoilage, pest attack or disease.
Water Management Practices: As a general rule particularly in humid weather, avoid watering plant leaves. Splashing creates a breeding ground for fungal spores (which cause mildews and mould diseases) and can transfer them from one plant to another.
Rain water harvesting: If you have a natural low-lying area in your garden, collect the run-off and harvest water rather than letting it escape! Add a simple pond and plant or move water loving plants into that zone so their roots soak up the moisture and leave plants that like dry feet alone!
Original Article by Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010.