Rain is essential to ensuring your vegetable garden thrives. However, the amount can be too much or too little, which doesn’t favor the plants. Naturally, any gardener wants steady rainfall to keep their garden healthy. Heavy rains pounding on your garden can drown and damage your plants which you don’t want.
Farmers have had to deal with this menace for a long time and have since come up with easy tricks to protect their produce during storms. Keep your vegetable garden in shape by applying the tips discussed below during periods of heavy rains.
How To Prevent Plant Damage
Remove damaged limbs and shoots
Before the rainstorm, ensure to remove dead limbs and shoots from your plants. Clearing out dead plant material helps streamline your plants and reduce the risk of tangling when the rains begin.
Spread a plant fabric
spreading a plant fabric before the rains begin helps avoid raindrops that could damage your crops and soil when moving at full speed. Drive stakes into your ground, attach the plant fabric to cover your plants and slow down the raindrop effects.
A strong plastic covering is also applicable if you are expecting heavy winds to accompany the rain. Your vegetable garden is set to stand both the strong wind and rains by using solid plastic coverings. You can get these plant covering materials at the nearest garden store.
Use buckets or pots to cover individual plants
Using pots or buckets to cover individual plants is essential in keeping the plants in place during the storm. Flip your pot or bucket upside down to cover the plant and hold it down with rocks to keep it in place during the rain.
Ensure to use a bucket or pot that is tall enough for the plant to fit under. If the bucket is smaller than the plant and presses the top of the plant downwards, the stem could break, possibly killing the plant.
Stake your plants
Staking your stemmed plants is helpful to avoid breaking the stem not only during the storm but in typical weather too. It is, however, important not to miss this step when expecting heavy rains that are accompanied mainly by strong winds.
Drive your wooden stake into the ground next to the plant; use twit-ties or a string to attach the stem to it. Ensure your stake is taller than the plant to avoid bending or breaking its stem as the plant grows.
Avoid planting crops near trees
Trees in your vegetable garden could be a huge disadvantage during a storm. Branches and twigs may break, or the whole tree falls due to the strong winds, crushing your plants and killing them.
Ensure to plant new trees far away from your crops to avoid such instances. If there are trees in your vegetable garden, inspect them and prune any unstable branches before the rain commences.
Ensuring there is proper drainage in your vegetable garden in preparation for the rains is a crucial step. Good drainage prevents water from stagnating and pooling in your garden, drowning the plants nearby.
Create a good runoff slope to drain the water away from your garden and inspect to eliminate any material likely to block the drainage system.
How to stop soil erosion from your vegetable garden
Lay mulch on your plant base
Use organic mulch, for example, wood chips or straw, and spread a layer of about 2-5cm thickness all around the base of your crops. Laying mulch to your plants’ bottom helps prevent root and soil damage during the heavy storm.
Besides preventing plant damage, organic mulch is advantageous to your vegetable garden as it helps keep the soil moist and control weeds.
Plant cover crops in the bare areas
Planting cover crops similar to laying mulch helps prevent extreme damage of raindrops hitting the soil with force. If you have any bare areas in your vegetable garden, planting cover crops such as sorghum or any grass type will help avoid soil runoff and erosion from rainwater running over it.
Cover crops are also beneficial to your garden as they control the water flow without creating a whole drainage system.
Stop runoff by planting shrubs and trees in the upland areas
Hilly or raised areas in your vegetable garden would mean that rainwater flows downhill and is likely to drown your plants. To avoid such scenarios, planting shrubs or trees in these areas prevent the harmful runoff by blocking and slowing down some of the water flowing downhill.
Fast flowing water can damage the roots of the crops sweeping them over; hence the trees and shrubs reducing the water speed become advantageous to your garden. The robust root system from these shrubs and trees also aids with preventing soil erosion.
Get extra cover from crop residue
After harvesting from your vegetable garden, it is advisable to leave a bit of crop residue on the ground to reduce the rain impact on the soil. Crop residue, in this case, could be plant stalks, leaves, or roots.
Like mulching, this technique reduces soil runoff from the water and significantly protects the garden from rainfall impact.
How to improve drainage in your garden
By cutting a drainage trench at the end of the row
Your vegetable garden may not drain water well, and this could cause pooling underneath rotting the plant roots. To aid better drainage, try cutting a ditch at the end of your crop rows. The trench should be approximately 30 centimeters deep to allow water to flow freely.
It may not be a good technique if you practice no-till farming.
Add ditches between crop rows
Some soil could remain waterlogged even after cutting a ditch at the end of the row. You might need a slight upgrade to your drainage. Go ahead and dig up to 30 centimeters deep trenches between the rows connecting them to the ditch at the end of the row.
With ditches in between the rows and at the end, water can flow more freely away from your garden! This technique is, however, a tilling one and my not work for no-till farming.
Use dikes to redirect water around the crops
Another technique to improve the drainage of rainwater in your garden is the use of dikes. Stones, sandbags, or soil can be used to surround your crops in the manner of a retaining wall. This way, runoff is prevented from flooding your crops.
If you have elevated or hilly areas around your garden, this would be an excellent technique for you. You can also direct the dikes to a ditch for even better drainage. For barriers created with soil, it is advisable to plant grass for that root support to prevent erosion.
Building raised beds
Another hack for good drainage is building raised beds for the delicate plants in your garden. With raised beds, rainwater slopes away from the beds and into a ditch that drains it away. This way, you can avoid water clogging, and your plants get to survive the rains.
Plan out a box of about 1-2ft and half a meter deep and fill it with soil. Plant the crops on the elevated boxes so that the roots are elevated and safe from flooding. This trick is perfect for delicate plants such as tomatoes in wet areas receiving heavy rains.
How to recover after rains
Monitor your plants
Your crops are at high risk of mold growth, especially after a storm. Therefore, it is essential to inspect your crops regularly after the heavy rains to ensure everything dries out. Dark bruised spots on your crops could indicate that mold is growing.
Ensure to cut off the sections of your plant that have mold before the infections spread to other areas.
Prune damaged crop sections
After your crops dry out, ensure to prune the damaged sections, which are more prone to disease. Moisture helps the mold to grow, so wait until the plant dries well before pruning.
Maintain cleanliness by sterilizing your clippers with a bleach solution or alcohol to prevent mold from spreading to other plants you use the clippers on.
Repel slugs from the crops
Slugs and snails may flock to your wet crops, especially after a big storm, and they can be incredibly destructive in your garden. One of the most common tricks of getting rid of these pests is by sprinkling salt around your crops or using a pesticide to repel them.
Ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using pesticides to repel the snails as some could be toxic and hazardous. If the repellent methods refuse to get the job done, consider exploring the slug trap route.
Clear out the saturated mulch
Laying mulch is a great way to protect your soil during a storm. It could, however, support bacteria and mold if it gets soaked. Therefore, it is important to rake out the mulch after a heavy storm to let the soil dry out. You can spread fresh mulch after the soil is well aerated and dry.
Avoid walking on flooded areas of your garden
Stepping on flooded areas could cause root damage to your crops. Ensure the soil dries up completely before walking on it.
Fertilize in the next season
Fertilizing your crops immediately after a massive storm is not a good idea and does not help the crops to recover better. The best time to fertilize would be the following season, typically at the beginning of every season.
Reapplication of fertilizer could be toxic to the local water sources as the next rainstorm would flush the chemicals into them.
Effects of too much rain on a gardener
Too much rain is not what any grower would want for their garden or crops. Here’s why;
- Too much rain makes the transplant conditions poor for any grower. It becomes challenging to transplant seedlings to your garden with uneven and inadequate stand establishment. It would, in turn, lead to the production of low vigor crops.
- With too much rain comes to the risk of too many diseases infesting your crops. It adds more pressure to you with managing the disease while trying to get the best out of your garden.
- After a big storm, the soil is wet and becomes compact and muddy. Working with moist soil is a nightmare, and there are a lot of problems stemming from it.
- Controlling pests from your garden after a heavy rainfall period could be a tedious process. These disruptions with scouting and timely applying the control measures could increase pest infestation and disease risk.
- The rainfall season may extend to more prolonged periods than anticipated, delaying cultivation or herbicide application to your garden. It could result in inadequate control of weeds that would weaken your plant’s health and vigor.
- A lot of water on your garden during a rainy season could leach or runoff fertilizer leaving your crops’ nutrient deficient and unhealthy.
- The compacted soil in your garden after a good pounding from the rain leads to shallow-rooted crops of low vigor that are less resistant to other challenges.
- Heavy rains disrupt the planting and harvesting season. This effect is felt with excesses and shortages in the supply of produce.
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After the heavy rains subside, they leave a good clue of how to avoid problems in the future. Inspect your garden and look for areas that appear depressed where the water stood and fill it up with other fresh soil.
Spot where the excess and unwanted water flowed, add drainage pipes or trenches to correct the issue and redirect the water to the desired area.
For the areas with poor drainage, take note and build raised beds before planting or consider plants that can withstand heavy rain. The variation of climate is something that we cannot control but only learn to work around. Do not let heavy rains deter you from planting your vegetable garden. Follow the tips discussed above to care for your vegetable garden and protect it from rain-related damages.
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
I am sharing all the practical tips on how to grow various plants, flower plants, vegetables in the garden. Read more about me.