Friday, December 18, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere!

It's been very quiet in the garden for the past three weeks... because I cannot get there! After three years of official drought and one year that was "normal" rainfall-wise, 2009 has decided to be a wet year here in Central Virginia. I can't tell you how much we have gotten in the past three weeks - because I cannot walk into the yard (seriously!) to see the rain gauge. In November we had 8 inches before we left for Thanksgiving.

It rained while we were gone, but I was able to cut the front yard (which slopes more, so had more runoff), but I still cannot cut the back. In fact, we have had so much rain that water is still standing - after three, count them, three weeks. We have gone to the shed a couple of times where there was just no other choice, but we have left little foot sized ponds with every step! Every time it almost dries out, we get more rain. Tonight we are supposed to get freezing rain and snow. Normally snow is a good thing (for the garden) because it melts slowly and the ground is able to absorb a bigger percentage (not much runoff), but I am guessing that we are wet all the way thru the good dirt and down to the clay, so now I am worried about root rot!

Most plants can go two to three weeks without watering - they look pretty bad, but they sacrifice their leaves to save their structure and with a bit of water come right back. But wet ground is a "whole nuther" thing. Plants can only stand in water so long before they, too, drown. They need oxygen exchange in their roots and if the ground is just too wet, they cannot get it. The danger in my garden is exactly that. I have built up about eight inches of good rich humusy growing dirt over the native clay. Normally water fills in that eight inches of good dirt and then evaporates off. In these conditions it can't evaporate enough and the water may be standing underground on top of that clay causing root rot. Unfortunately, I won't know until spring.

So, all I can do is hope for sunshine soon and hope that most things have sufficient root structure to hold them thru this "crisis". So all of the photos are from prettier days! The one day I was able to get out to check on the pond, frogger was still there, so thought you might like to meet him. He still looks the same, only larger! Must have been a good summer for bugs.