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It’s raining – it’s pouring: tips for the wet weather garden

Wet weather is part and parcel of gardening life in the UK. There’s nothing any of us can do about it, not even trade plant specialists like Ladybrook Nursery. You just have to get on with it and accept it gracefully, because without rain, every garden would suffer. Unfortunately, the amount of rain we’ve been experiencing here in the North West recently has been causing problems. Sadly, there’s little that we can do to prevent any damage to plants from excessive rainfall – damage like plant disease, soil erosion and flooding; but we can take steps to minimise the damage and protect our valuable plant stock. Here are Ladybrook Nursery’s top tips for wet-weather gardening.

Deal with areas of localised flooding

During heavy rains, any areas that are not draining properly should be easy to spot. If plants are allowed to stand in water for any length of time it can lead to root rot. When soil is waterlogged, plants literally drown. Water fills all the air spaces between the soil particles and this prevents oxygen from reaching the roots. In turn, this causes the soil to stagnate and prevents root growth.
If you do notice areas that are prone to flooding, find ways to drain water away from your garden. This can be done using rock beds or even using plastic water drains.

Examine plants for damage

Heavy rain and thunderstorms can cause significant plant damage. What compounds the problem is that extended periods of wet weather can also lead to plant diseases like powdery mildew. After a heavy downpour, check your plants for damage. If only a few leaves have been damaged, you can remove them: if a plant has been bent over by the force of the rain you may still be able to stake it. Unfortunately, if the main stem has snapped, the chances are that the plant is lost.
If the wet weather is prolonged, it can lead to plant diseases caused by fungi or bacteria. These should be treated as soon as they are discovered.
It’s also important to remember to check the base of the plants to see if soil erosion has exposed any roots. If it has, you should cover them with soil or compost. Left exposed, the roots can dry out, which can seriously harm or even kill the plant.

Replenish Nutrients

Rain and flooding can wash away much-needed nutrients from the soil.  After heavy or persistent rain, it’s a good idea to replace those nutrients by adding compost or an organic fertilizer to your soil.

Soil compaction

If soil has become waterlogged, walking on it will only make it worse, as you run the risk of compacting the soil. What’s more, if you walk on wet soil there is a chance that you could damage the roots of your plants.

Weeds and Slugs 

Some weeds can become very prolific during rainy weather and can choke out your specimen plants and vegetables. Deal with the weeds as and when you see them and try to keep on top of them. The longer you leave them; the more prolific they’ll get.
Up-end, or better still, completely remove any containers and wheelbarrows that can collect rain water. These can quickly become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.
Be vigilant against slugs. They love damp and moist places and will decimate plants if left unchecked. Pick slugs and snails off plants when you see them. They are usually at their most active from twilight onwards, so get out in your garden with a torch if necessary and remove them. If you have severe problems then use a proprietary slug killer to deal with any slug infestation.

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