Hello fellow readers,
Last week we were on deck for a new planting, but heavy rains were forecast. While a light drizzle or overcast skies are ideal for planting, when it’s raining cats and dogs it’s not. Just as walking around soggy soil is not good for existing plants, planting in the saturated dirt is harmful to new plants. It compresses the soil inhibiting adequate oxygen and root growth. So, as it turned out, we placed the plants in position and planted them after things dried out enough.
One of the chores ideal to do in rain, or soon after, is weeding. Again, being careful not to tromp too near desirable plants. It makes for easy pulling and a better likelihood of getting to the root of things. Removing the taproot is critical for invasive intruders such as mugwort and the stealth ragweed which has no showy flower unlike the glorious goldenrod, also in bloom this time of year, that wrongly takes the rap for itchy eyes. (A previous column on the topic Goldenrod’s Bad Reputation.)
Over the weekend I finally had a few hours to tend to my own garden which is chockfull of undesirables. My mission was to tackle the Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum) also known as Mary’s grass, though I take no ownership. The mini-bamboo looking trespasser is easy to pull. It’s an annual grass so getting the full root is not critical as with other weeds. Still, the seeds are viable for five or more years so pulling or weed whacking it before it goes to seed is vital unless you have some way of convincing deer stilt grass is delicious. Where’s Dr. Doolittle when you need him?
We’ve talked before how too much rain along with warm temps can create a mayhem for fungi and bacteria dilemmas. And it has! So while you’re weeding, remove decaying, diseased or fungi ridden branches, foliage, or other “droppings.” Depending on the offender, dispose of them either far away from your garden or in plastic bags to head to the dump. I know, not the best practice to add to the wasteland which will outlive us all, but certain diseases warrant containment such as the highly contagious canker disease killing off spruces from the bottom up.
So, what is it with the saying Raining Cats and Dogs anyway; one of my dear old mom’s favorite idioms. Truly, when have we’ve ever seen cats or dogs falling from the sky? According to The Library of Congress, “We don’t know. The phrase might have its roots in Norse mythology, medieval superstitions, the obsolete word catadupe (waterfall), or dead animals in the streets of Britain being picked up by storm waters.” Bottom line – no knows or can predict the mysteries of nature. All we can do is help nurture nature the best that we can.
Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com