Friday, June 17, 2005

On the Greener side

Express Staff Writer

Under the weather

Are we under the weather yet? As it happens the drought of the winter turned into the most amazingly wet and cloudy spring. Despite the determination by many to wear shorts and flip flops when the temps go down into the low 30s, it's mighty hard to get out in the garden. Long pants and sweaters in June just kind of take the pizzazz out of us.

Since our warm weather season is already so short, the cool weather has been frustrating a lot of people. But my garden has never looked better. Sorry. Without the harsh sun beating down on it, the blooms are holding their color longer and the greens are deeper from not being washed out. It seems like we are living in the Northwest and it shows. I've been dreaming of lots of other plants that could be doing well here now, but know that this weather can't possibly last. So goodbye to thoughts of rangy hydrangeas and rhododendrons.

Is this the way we want it to be? Of course not. But if you want to keep planting you still can manage it. Since plants have a harder time getting settled when it's hot and dry, we can keep up with planting lawns, perennials, shrubs and trees.

Someone said to me that they feel sorry for people who grew up here because they'd never eaten a tomato off the vine. Maybe this is the year to experience that particular pleasure.

Meanwhile, deal with the excess dampness and more compact soil by apply extra mulch over the root areas, feed to encourage healthy root growth and use plenty of organic matter before planting to improve soil structure and drainage.

But, beware, if your sprinklers have been watering during the wet weather, you may get waterlogged soil that can literally drown plants. Water fills all the air spaces between the soil particles and this prevents oxygen from reaching the roots. In turn, this causes the soil to stagnate and prevents root growth.

While an unusually cool, wet spring can delay the growing season, our plantings will finally begin to grow when the sun shines. In contrast, a growing season with too little rain has a significant, negative impact on most plants.

So be of good cheer. By the Fourth of July summer may actually be here.

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