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Beware of wet garden soil!

by | Apr 23, 2008

The warm planting season is finally upon us here in southeastern Virginia and then it goes and rains for days on end and brings all of my plans of planting to a screeching halt. We need the rain so badly here that I shouldn’t complain. However, the thousands of plants I face every morning I go into my transplant room that are eager to get there roots into the soil surely have some complaining to do if I just understood their language.

The rain has stopped as of yesterday mid-day and now the official waiting starts…..waiting for the soil to be dry enough to walk on and work. For us that usually takes a couple of days, which is fairly quick. Our soil drains very quickly (pay-off of 80 years of feeding our soil compost) and we are in a very windy location that dries out my garden quickly.

Why wait? Working, walking or planting in wet soil causes damage that can pretty much not be easily fixed.

Walking in wet landscaped beds is like pouring concrete footprints everywhere you step. It compacts the soil and it sticks together like glue unless manual separated–yikes.

Preparing soil that is to wet makes little dirt balls, not nice garden soil.

Planting while wet is like pouring concrete around your plant- not a good mix!

How to know when the soil is dry enough to work, plant or walk on? Grab handful of soil, make a fist, and then from waist height, drop the ball of soil from your hand to the ground. If the ball sticks together, or only breaks into a couple chunks, it is still to wet. If the ball of soil falls apart when it hits the ground–you are good to go!

This is yet another of those times that I am reminded why it is the most important step to feed and build the soil–because in stressful times like lots of rain or no rain the soil will take care of my garden like nothing else can!

Happy spring!

Lisa Z

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