A labor of love and mud

By Janet Laminack, Denton County Extension Agent-Horticulture

Seems like it has been raining for 40 days and 40 nights, or at least it feels like it. I know that we will covet these rainy days soon enough, but that is not today.

Too much rain is a problem, especially with the heavy clay soils we have in Denton County. These soils do not drain well, which stifles air exchange for the roots. A suffocating plant sometimes looks like a thirsty plant and that just seems like a bad design to me. What’s a well-meaning person likely to do when they see a wilting plant?

Unfortunately, there just isn’t too much that we can do when we are getting too much rain.

Container plants and raised beds won’t be impacted as much as in-ground plants. If only lumber wasn’t so expensive, everyone might finally put in a raised bed this season! If you have a garden with framework for shade cloth or frost cloth, I would put plastic up to deflect some of the rain.

Other things that might be helpful for your plants’ health, especially vegetables, would be to improve air circulation. This may not be possible, but you may want to thin out your plants if they are crowded. I expect we will see a lot of disease, and fungus especially likes to bounce around on leaves. That’s right, you may want to socially distance your plants from each other. Related to that, adding a mulch layer around your vegetables so that leaves and fruits are not in contact with soil might prevent some disease spread. Note, with this much rain, we may see some nutrient deficiencies once it clears up.

Tomatoes (Photo by Laura McKenzie)

No doubt it has been a rough start for our gardens this spring with the freeze followed by superabundant rainfall. If you have been skilled enough (or just lucky) to get a good crop, we hope you will bring your produce to the Denton County Fruit, Vegetable, Herb & Flower Show on June 19th. This is a contest open to all residents of Denton County with categories for adults and children held at the Denton County Historical Park and Denton Community Market. It’s free to enter and thanks to our many sponsors, there are cash awards! Information & entry form can be found at https://dcmga.com/.

If you find yourself in my boat (that’s a rain joke), don’t give up yet. Many of our herbs can still be planted for summer harvest such as the heat loving basil and the dependable perennial rosemary. Herbs are great for pollinators and look attractive in flower beds. Fruit production is gaining popularity as well. Most of our fruit comes from trees and shrubs which is perfect for the gardener who prefers the long game.

There are also opportunities to learn how to garden as a volunteer with local organizations who grow and donate produce to area food pantries. Shiloh Field in Denton http://shilohfield.com/ and Flower Mound First Baptist https://fmfb.church/grow/garden/ are just two community gardens who always accept an extra hand and where beginners are welcome.

For more information on any of these activities or for help with your garden/landscape issues, give us a call at 940.349.2892 or email [email protected].

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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