Friday, March 12, 2010

Rainy day gardening

Yes, it's raining. It's Portland, it's spring and it's raining. Get over it.

There are plenty of rainy day gardening activities if you are too much of a chicken to go outside and cluck around your yard.

Like what? People tell me that they can't weed or plant when it's raining out. Well, if every gardener waited for perfect weather they'd have to move into a bio-dome.

Here's what I think. (And guess what? You don't have to agree with me.) Go ahead and plant and weed in the rain-here's a novel idea. Use common sense. If it's pouring out and the ground is soaking wet and your knees are half way to China, probably not such a good idea to plant. But if it's a regular rainy day in Oregon, go ahead. Make sure you still amend the soil. You almost always want to amend the heavy clay soil we have in the Portland area. And dig big, wide holes-especially for larger shrubs and trees. (Yes, leave the burlap on the tree. Loosen it if it makes you feel better). The people who tell you not to plant in the rain are largely people not from the Pacific Northwest and people who have pyschological problems. (Yes, that's a joke-its Friday, okay? I'm feeling punchy). It's not that they're dumb, it's just that planting in the rain in Wisconsin or Missouri makes less sense because usually when it rains there it pours and it can displace or drown your new plantings or get you electrocuted. Again, use common sense. If the ground is mushy and slick and you can barely stand, wait a day or two for the soil to dry up a bit. Falling on one's ass is funny when your landscaping boss does it, less so than when you do it.

Here's what not to plant when the soil is really wet. Seeds, seedlings, new veggie starts. Heavy wet soil can become compacted and act like cement so that it's difficult for the new roots to expand and get air. If you just have no other time in your busy, busy life, than plant in the dead of night. (Just kidding, but it'd be fun to see). Go ahead and plant, but try not plod around like Frankenstein. Find a two-by-four and get your weight on that. At least try and use the same foot path away from the planting area.

And don't forget to don that impossibly silly yellow fisherman's hat so that you are more likely to be seen by your spouse when they return home and find nothing but your head sticking up next to a freshly planted row of begonias...Corny, yes. What of it!

Here are some things you can do while it's pouring out. Prune your little heart out. You'll get wet, true, it won't kill you. Prune that rhodie and that camelia in the front that are about to eat your porch. Hang out under the eaves when it starts to hail. It'll pass, you don't have to go running for the bomb shelter.

If you're a delicate creature, stay inside and sow some seeds in your new little seed kit that you just bought at Freddie's. Go to home depot and buy some wood and construct a little house for bumblebees. Or better yet, clean out that mysteriously filled Tupperware in the back of your fridge...

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