Too wet to garden?
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Callie Lipkin
It looks like the weather in the Mid-Atlantic will burst into spring this weekend, with temperatures expected to be in the high 60s and low 70s.
It is irresistable gardening weather, but gardeners may have to do just that. Resist.
Barbara Damrosch, writing in the Washington Post today, says that garden soil is probably still too wet to work and doing so will certainly compact it, shutting down the worm tunnels and air pockets that plants need. Compaction is particularly harmful in the clay soil we have in many parts of Maryland.
She is writing primarily about vegetable gardening, but even lawns (yes, the much-hated lawns) will suffer if you walk on them when they are this wet.
How wet is too wet? If you sqeeze the soil and it stays in your hand in a clump, it is too wet to work.
The time to improve your soil, Damrosch writes, is actually in the fall. Add compost and other soil amendments then, with the soil is dry and it has time to take in the nutrients. Don't try to do that now.
But what about clean-up? Can't we just go out and start to clean up the mess left by this damaging winter?
The answer seems to be, it depends.
I literally had standing water in my yard after last weekend's rains. And the edges of the beds were filled with water that had collected there. The ground is so saturated by more than 50 inches of snow that there was no place for rainwater to go. The sunny days predicted for this weekend will only begin to dry out my gardens.
If you absolutely must garden this weekend, work on your containers. More on that tomorrow.