Growing Green: Flooded Gardens and Short Season Crops
Here we go again, the weather roller coaster has hit the top of that first hill, and the thrill ride has begun, WHEEE! Storms, wind and RAIN, RAIN, RAIN have made this year’s gardening season a challenge. Flooded beds, and delayed planting will greatly affect this year’s harvest, and some gardeners are just about ready to give up. (There’s always the farmer’s market, right?) If you are facing some of these issues, consider these suggestions.
Wet and soggy soils can thwart even the most experienced gardeners. If you have no choice but to garden in a low spot that collects water, there are a few things you can do to improve the situation. The easiest way to improve drainage is to build a berm or raised bed right on the soggy site. This way, most of the plants’ roots can grow above the level of saturation. Mixing gravel in the lowest layer of soil can also improve drainage. Some plants like it wet, so, if the site you choose remains soggy, change the plants you choose to grow. Sedges, flag iris, Butterfly weed (Asclepias Tuberosa), Purple Coneflower and Bottle Gentian are just a few of the perennials that like soggy feet. Or, plant a rain garden! A rain garden is a shallow depression filled with flood-tolerant shrubs, flowers and grasses. Its main function is to collect and filter storm water runoff, but rain gardens also add beauty to the landscape and may attract butterflies and birds.
If your vegetable garden is suffering from this odd beginning to our summer, don’t give up hope! There are still several short season crops that you can plant and harvest before frost! Plant direct seed beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips now for a great harvest in August and September. Start broccoli, cabbage and Swiss chard inside for transplanting in mid-July for a fall harvest. So, you don’t grow tomatoes and peppers this year, at least you get to have fresh, healthy produce from your own vegetable patch!
For more about rain gardens, visit http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/GWQ037.pdf
Johnny’s Selected Seed has a great list of plants to start now for a fall harvest, visit www.johnnyseeds.com.
Robin Trott is a Horticulture Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.