Too Wet to Weed!

Too Wet to Weed!

Mud clinging to a plant tuber. Photo: KCMGA.

When is it too wet to weed? Right now! All the recent rain has been a boon for our lakes and stock ponds, but it’s put a damper on spring gardening and landscaping. Even after the puddles subside, the soil is still too wet to work.

Working wet soil can badly compact it, and the negative effects can last for years. Even walking in your garden beds or on your lawn when it’s very wet can pack soil particles tightly, leaving less room for water and air to penetrate. Compacted soil also makes it harder for plant roots to grow into the soil. The soil forms tight clumps that get hard as rocks and are difficult to break up.

Once soil is compacted, it can take several years to rebuild a healthy soil structure. Annual or semi-annual applications of organic matter, like composted plant and animal wastes, will help aerate the soil. Growing a green manure crop, like annual rye or winter wheat, and tilling it under in the spring is also beneficial. But the best thing to do is prevent compaction in the first place.

How do you know your soil is dry enough to work? One way is to dig a trowel-full of soil, and squeeze it in your hand. If it crumbles through your fingers, it’s ready to work. If it makes a muddy ball, leave it alone for a few days, and sample again later. If water drips from it, as it did today at the Garden Learning Center, you might consider looking at a few boat plans.

An easier way to tell if your soil is too wet is to pull up a weed or two. If the soil stays clumped on the roots, even after you shake it several times, the soil is too wet to weed. You’ll be throwing away all that lovely amended soil you’ve been working so hard to create. Sure, most of it goes into your compost pile, where it’ll be recycled, but do you really want to haul it twice to get it back where it was before you pulled up those weeds? If it’s too wet to weed, it’s too wet for anything else as well. Do yourself and your soil a favor; go read a gardening book or look at seed catalogs until things dry out.

When is it too wet to weed? Right now! All the recent rain has been a boon for our lakes and stock ponds, but it’s put a damper on spring gardening and landscaping. Even after the puddles subside, the soil is still too wet to work.

Working wet soil can badly compact it, and the negative effects can last for years. Even walking in your garden beds or on your lawn when it’s very wet can pack soil particles tightly, leaving less room for water and air to penetrate. Compacted soil also makes it harder for plant roots to grow into the soil. The soil forms tight clumps that get hard as rocks and are difficult to break up.

Once soil is compacted, it can take several years to rebuild a healthy soil structure. Annual or semi-annual applications of organic matter, like composted plant and animal wastes, will help aerate the soil. Growing a green manure crop, like annual rye or winter wheat, and tilling it under in the spring is also beneficial. But the best thing to do is prevent compaction in the first place.

How do you know your soil is dry enough to work? One way is to dig a trowel-full of soil, and squeeze it in your hand. If it crumbles through your fingers, it’s ready to work. If it makes a muddy ball, leave it alone for a few days, and sample again later. If water drips from it, as it did today at the Garden Learning Center, you might consider looking at a few boat plans.

It is too wet to weed when soil clumps around roots and cannot be easily shaken off.

 

 

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