High Country gardening: Dealing with saturated soils
September 14, 2013
It's been a long, wet week that has saturated soils and disrupted plant life. Here are some tips to help you deal with the fallout.
If you installed new plants this season, you've probably been coached to water them regularly through the season and into the winter. You need to know, however, that newly-installed plants in water-saturated soils will look just like drought-stressed plants. Don't be fooled. Turn off the irrigation, stop watering and don't water again until the soil is no longer saturated. You can kill plants by over-watering as well as under-watering.
Heavy, drenching rain on well-drained soils can leach out the nutrients from recent lawn fertilizations. If you fertilized recently, you may need to consider supplemental fertilization based on the amount of moisture received and the soil type.
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If you already had trees/shrubs with early yellowing leaves, that may be a sign of iron deficiency called chlorosis. This existing condition can be worsened when soils are saturated. If you don't already have the problem, wet soils won't create it.
Patio pots placed out in the open will definitely become saturated. If there are saucers underneath, be sure to pour out the water – and put the saucers aside if you can until dry weather returns because saucers full of water will keep containers from draining.
Weeds take to the rain like ducks — so expect existing weeds to be even more vigorous and new ones to germinate.
What about veggies?
• Rain and cool temps can delay ripening of some veggies, especially tomatoes.
• You may see blossom end rot — a black spot on the under side of tomatoes — which is caused by cool, moist weather. Pick tomatoes while they are small and cut off the spots before eating tomatoes.
• Vine crops, like cucumber and gourds, may develop powdery mildew on their leaves. Live with the condition, but expect an earlier than normal decline of the vines.
Downpours and running water can move or remove wood mulch. When the sun comes out again, mulch may need to be rearranged or refurbished.
Driving winds and hail in some areas this week may have damaged trees. If you have broken branches or "hangers" (branches barely attached), get help right away from a company that specializes in tree care. Damaged limbs can break/fall at any time.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a member company based in Silverthorne. Contact Neils Lunceford at (970) 468-0340.