Drought or Deluge, The Remedy is the Same

Spanish lavendar

What are you looking at? It’s my most badly stressed container plant, a Spanish lavender. I’m not in really bad shape this summer, luckily.

But a tweet from @Proven_Winners awhile back about how much of the country was experiencing flooding rains (not a problem I’m having) and if the gardens were getting washed out, it was time to fertilize made me think that container plants in summer could be having the same issues.

Even plants in drought stricken parts of the country that are able to receive supplemental irrigation (if any are at this point–clearly I’m not describing California anymore!) might be suffering from nutrient deficiencies.

So what do you do and how do you fix it?

Well, for gardens in the ground, it’s clear that this is going to continue to be an ongoing problem. Regions will continue to see wildly fluctuating amounts of moisture and it will not only be difficult to plan for that but it may also be difficult to water in times of drought.

In times of “deluge,” or too wet spring and summer, it can be difficult to prevent nutrients from leeching from the soil.

Even during dry times, like our past two summers here, our rains, when they have come, have caused mulch to run off in rivers, pooling unattractively on hard surfaces, or worse yet washing into storm drains and into our waterways. (But you know my anti-mulch bias).

So how to cope? Other than some mechanical edging to attempt to contain that mulch (which, depending on the rain, might or might not work anyway) here are a couple of practical suggestions.

Install drip irrigation. I discussed this in a post about a year ago (April of 2014 to be exact). I can only endorse this, however, if you install moisture sensors. My state currently doesn’t mandate that. I know more pro-active states do.

If that sounds like too much work, you can incorporated compost into your beds.   I also talked a fair bit about this last spring.  Or better yet, wait until fall and just spade some compost around the gardens and hope you have some “weather” over the winter.  Where I live, there’s always “weather” to work the compost into the ground (but I have to be careful to compost after the Spoiler comes by with his Giant Leaf Vac or all my compost will be blown to the curb with the leaves!)

And while we do preserve many, many of our leaves for compost, we could not possibly use them all, sadly–hence the giant leaf vac. It’s the one un-ecological thing we do–at least in the garden.



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