The recent storms on the east coast have caused gardeners a few challenges.
In my own garden I am having to contend with wilting vegetables due to excess water, wind damage, especially to large vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower that due to their size, were whipped around savagely causing root damage. There are a number of limbs down from large trees which has resulted in further damage to plants underneath them where they fell.
One of the hidden problems of torrential rain is leaching of nutrients beyond the root zone of plants and in particular annual plant which are shallow rooted.
Nutrients need to be broken down until they are in a form that can be dissolved into the soil water so they can be taken up p by the plants roots. Unfortunately in this form they are easily carried by water either through the soil profile and/ or lost in runoff or ground water.
All my vegetable beds are improved with organic fertilisers, such as pelletised chook manure, cow and sheep manure and blood and bone. All these will break down gradually, so the lack of nutrients will only be temporary, but may still cause a slowing in the growth.
Crops like lettuce and celery need to be kept growing strongly to avoid bitterness or bolting and leafy greens need constant supply of nitrogen to maintain growth. My brassicas, which I am trying to get to a good size before the cold weather sets in, cannot afford to slow their growth.
My first task is to give the whole vegetable garden a liquid feed of a high nitrogen fertiliser. I will use a batch of high nitrogen fertiliser tea I have made from 1/3 chook manure, 1/3 leafy weeds and 1/3 leaf matter from my bean crop. This has been “stewing” for over a month so will be well and truly ready.
If I did not have this on hand I would use Powerfeed.
Rather than do this with a watering can I will fill a used 2 litre plastic container with a click clack hose fitting on it. I fill the container with 50% fertiliser 50% water which when dilute by the incoming hose water will be at an appropriate application strength.
This will ensure continued growth for all my crops.
My English spinach is looking very sad as it hates excess water and even though it is in a raised bed the rain during the week has been enough for the roots to start to die. I will give them a liquid feed of seasol to try and promote new root growth, but will be planting new seed in case they don’t recover.
If it continue to rain, then I will keep giving the garden frequent (every three days), ½ strength liquid feeds.
The same problem arises for any plants in pots that are exposed to rain. For me this is mainly herbs and citrus trees. So again an application of a liquid fertiliser and then a top up of a slow release fertiliser will be needed to keep them healthy and growing well.
Although I will have lots of tasks to do to clean up after the storms, I will make fertilising the vegetable garden and productive pots a priority so that growth is not checked and my winter production is not affected.