The rainy season has started in the Philippines, and my plants are either loving it or hating it. These super wet days can pose a challenge for many gardeners like me. For one, my gardening activities will surely be limited, especially during heavy downpours in the late afternoon. Some plants however simply love these afternoon showers, like those leafy greens, as well as some herbs like basil, dill, mint and tarragon.
Here are a few gardening tips for coping with the rainy days:
Start planting the greens.
Most salad greens like lettuce and spinach, as well as Asian vegetables, will grow well under these cool wet conditions. About a month ago, I started to plant some pechay and and kai-lan seeds in a seed tray. While summer has not ended then, I expected the rainy season to start soon and temperature to drop gradually. True enough, the rainy days started in just a few weeks and the 3-week old pechay and kai-lan seedlings are loving it.
Gardening tip: To have an endless supply of leafy greens, sow a few seeds every other week, or alternating between 2 or 3 types of seeds every week. As they tend to grow faster during these wet days, expect to harvest these vegetables in 6 weeks. For new seedlings, too much water may cause their young roots to rot. Make sure to keep the seedling tray indoors or by the window exposed to some sunlight. Move them gradually outdoors two weeks after germination.
Ensure proper drainage for potted plants.
Too much rain can sometimes be harmful for some plants. Potted tomatoes for instance don’t want to get their roots too soaked, which cause their leaves to curl. For potted plants, always ensure sufficient holes at the bottom of pots to allow excess water to flow through properly.
Replenish the soil nutrients.
The rains also tend to deplete or wash away the soil nutrients. Add organic fertilizer or compost to replenish the lost nutrients in the soil. Apply fertilizer at the sides of the plant’s base, where the tips of their leaves or crown extend to. Loosen the soil first before applying fertilizer, especially if the soil has hardened after being water soaked for an extended period of time.
Watch out for pests and plant diseases.
The wet rainy days season also attract garden pests. Slugs and other crawling creatures love this moist environment. These pests can be voracious and can destroy the entire plant overnight. Check the plants every morning for any sign of slugs and other pest infestation. In addition, some plants are prone to plant disease during these consistently wet days. When a fungal infection occurs, discard the entire plant and do not use the soil for the same crop group.
Move the rosemary indoors.
Some plants, like the rosemary, lavender and aloe vera, are sensitive and they do not like being soaked. During these periods of extended heavy rains, it is better to move them indoors temporarily, preferably by the window where they can still get some amount of sunlight. Out of the 6 rosemary plants that I bought from the garden shop, only one had survived as of today, and this one is barely thriving. Rosemary roots, like those of lavender, are very sensitive to moisture and too much of it will kill it. I made the mistake of leaving these plants outdoors when the rains started last year, so they withered and died in a few weeks.
Protect yourself during rainy days.
Yes, gardening can still be fun during the wet season. After a rainy day, I love to smell and feel the morning breeze which relaxes me. However, the rainy season also carries with it all sorts of disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Protect yourself with a good raincoat that does not restrict your movement while gardening. Some raincoats are designed with flaps which allow cool air to pass through the material. Gardening boots are also useful especially when walking through muddy puddles and slightly flooded areas. Lastly, take vitamins to increase your body’s resistance to colds and other viral infections, after being exposed to the rains.
For more gardening tips, visit my other posts http://www.urbangardeningmom.com to learn more. Happy gardening!