By Janice Brown
Flooding is becoming an all too common occurrence on the news lately. Texas is continuing to be hit hard by heavy spring rains that have inconvenienced some and devastated others. I pray that our audience is among those who have been slightly inconvenienced, having no major loss of life or property. As this rainy pattern continues, here are a few tips with dealing with the deluge.
The Texas Gulf Coast was originally prairie land that became inundated with flood waters from time-to-time. The native plants of Texas are used to these conditions, so they stand firm against the waters and carry on once things got drier. This is another reason why planting native ornamentals is a good idea. My ornamental landscape has sat under a foot of water or so multiple times and most of my plants never have any ill effect. I have quite a few natives such as lantana, beauty berry, Care Free Beauty roses, and salvias. These plants will pretty much live and bloom through anything. If your landscape was flooded, here are some tips to help it bounce back.
1. Rinse debris off plants. I know this seems contrary to logic because there’s already been too much water, but debris can have contaminates on it and damage leaves.
2. Look for places that have been broken or may be rotting. Prune them off the plant.
3. Clean up debris using gloves to avoid scratches to skin. Remember that flood waters may contain contaminants.
4. If there are newly planted items in the landscape, look for plants that may have been washed out of their hole. Replant these right away.
5. Feed plants, as most fertilizers have probably been washed away. First wait a couple of weeks or so to let plants get over shock especially if a heat wave follows the flood. Consider adding a soil additive such as molasses, fish emulsion, or compost to reinvigorate depleted soils.
The Produce Garden
Torrential rains can wreak havoc on a fruit and vegetable garden. Diseases caused by too much moisture can begin to develop, and if a complete immersion happens to a crop, it can mean a total loss. Fortunately, my vegetable garden is in a raised bed, so it has never been immersed in flood waters. Flood waters and edible plants are a different story. Flood waters can be contaminated by lots of unknown sources, so be careful with what you eat if your garden has been covered. Here are some general rules to go by if your crop has been experienced heavy rain or sitting in unidentified waters.
1. To be on the safe side, discard any ripe fruits or vegetables that came in contact with contamination whether through the roots or directly on the fruit.
2. If produce was in the flowering phase and will be consumed cooked once developed, they are most likely okay for consumption. Use extreme caution. Wash them thoroughly and cook them at a safe temperature before eating. Use your knowledge of your area when determining whether to save crops.
3. Discard all foods that are consumed raw, such as lettuce and strawberries.
4. Be on watch for diseases such as powdery mildew on anything susceptible to it, such as squash. Hit them with an organic fungicide or a milk and water solution.
5. Start adding crushed eggshells to soil around developing produce to combat blossom end rot which usually happens when calcium is leached out of soil.
The Good Side of a Soaking Rain
The up side of a gully-washer is that plants get a deep watering which prompts deeper roots. Deeper roots stay moister longer, making a happier plant. Drenching rain can also wash salt out of soil in places that have high salt content in their water source, which can be the case in coastal areas that have wells. A good soaking is usually followed by rejuvenation in plants, so enjoy the burst of green after the gray skies.
On the Grow is a garden coaching service launched by Janice Brown to teach people how to be successful gardeners in the sometimes difficult, Gulf Coast climate. On the Grow provides garden education for the home gardener, children in outdoor classrooms, neighbors in community gardens, and employees in workplace gardens. Whether you want a new idea for a girls’ night out, a new way to engage children in nature, or want to implement a fresh wellness program in your company, On the Grow is here for you. Your coach will take you step by step teaching you the basics, while presenting you with a fresh perspective by helping you experience the healing benefits of gardening. Our mission at On the Grow is to help everyone experience the joy of a garden and build a greater connection to Mother Earth. Connect with One The Grow on Facebook and Twitter!