How to prepare your garden for rain need not be a list of daunting tasks. Here’s how to do it in 10 easy steps which include playing a popular game.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney (as well as other parts of Australia) are in for a long, wet winter season. While it may mean reconsidering what you’re planning on growing in your edible garden, there are a few maintenance tasks that would be of benefit before prolonged periods of rain.
Let’s face it, some garden chores are more tedious than others and you cannot predict what damage will occur as a result of heavy rain but a little planning and preparation can go a long way. In this article, I’m sharing with you the 10 steps I take to prepare my garden for rain.
How to Prepare Your Garden for Rain in 10 Easy Steps
1. Harvest Ripe Fruit
Before the big wet, harvest any fruit that’s almost ripe to avoid it splitting from prolonged rain. Similarly, any root vegetables that are nearly ready are worth pulling out to prevent splitting or rotting. Although we’re nearing the official start of the winter season, a few chilli plants are still producing fruit and my summer grown tomatoes have started to put on a little blush.
2. Pick Flowers
If you’re growing flowers for the purposes of drying or consuming, this is the time to pick them before they get soaked with water. In my winter garden, I have pineapple sage flowers, nasturtiums, butterfly pea flowers and African blue basil flowers that I collect and dry indoors.
3. Apply a Slow Release Fertiliser
Before the rain period starts, feed the soil with your choice of fertiliser, be it a slow release fertiliser, pelletised chicken manure or a light sprinkle of blood and bone. As rain depletes the soil of nutrients, not only does it benefit from a top up beforehand, you don’t need to water it in.
4. Seaweed Tonic Drink
If your plants are long overdue for a seaweed tonic drink, I like to give them a good drink a few days before a long period of rain. Although it will eventually wash out, the soil will at least have some reserves beforehand.
5. Play Pot Plant Tetris
If any of your pots are usually undercover, move them to location where they will benefit from the rain. My garden is almost fully exposed to the elements with the exception of a few pots which are covered by the balcony. Part of how I prepare my garden for rain involves playing garden Tetris back and forth during the prolonged wet periods- it’s more fun than the gym and well worth it.
6. Direct Sow Seeds
If you’re considering sowing new seeds, this is the time to do it particularly if you’re direct sowing. I’m starting another round of carrot, beetroot, lettuce, celtuce, radish and peas. I usually cover the soil with a thin fabric to keep the seeds moist and remove it once germination occurs.
7. Put Tools Down and Away
Every gardener knows that garden tools should be cleaned and packed away after each use and stored in a dry spot. This is particularly true for secateurs which seem to magically rust overnight. Give your garden tools a good wipe with a disinfectant and store them indoors if you can. I use diluted methylated spirits in a spray bottle to give them a clean and a wipe before storing them in a waterproof box.
8. Collect Rainwater
Using rainwater to water the garden has many benefits. For a start, it doesn’t contain the added fluoride, chlorine, ammonia or other chemicals. Furthermore, it provides nitrogen in the form of nitrates which is taken up by plants to produce lush, green foliage. Before extended periods of rain, place plastic buckets in the garden to collect rainwater which can be used during the drier periods.
9. Drain the Worm Farm
Keep an eye out on your worm farm as worms are sensitive to moisture. Make sure that the tap on your worm farm is left open for the water to drain freely. Alternatively, remember to open the tap daily to prevent the worms from drowning. I prefer to leave the tap open at all times. I place a bucket underneath it to collect the runoff which gets naturally diluted with rain water and can be used at a later stage.
10. Prepare Your Garden for Rain with a General Tidy Up
Lastly, a quick check and tidy up around the garden could save a lot of headache later on. Check that any netting is secured properly, plants are staked (particularly soft stemmed plants) and pots are in a safe spot that won’t get knocked down in the rain or the wind. If you have a small greenhouse, make sure it’s secure by adding weights at the bottom such as bricks to help prevent it from flying in the wind.
By taking these small steps, you can at least have peace of mind that you’ve done the best for your garden. The rest is up to nature.