Gardening in the Mud

by updated 2011/04/24

I feel a bit like this muddy pup today although he is much cleaner than I am.  I spent the morning outside in the rain, planting roses, gladiolas, lilies, and lilacs.  Why?  Because there is limited time and these things need to be done.  Ironically I spent most of this week at work gardening in the rain and mud!

When you are working with soil that is very wet, caution is in order.  Especially if you have soil with some clay content, too much working when very wet can damage the soil’s structure.  I was very careful and I’m sure it will be fine.  Still gardening this time of year can be a challenge.  Unless, of course, you garden where Tony does.  Our winter is Tasmania’s summer and I am jealous.

How many of you spend some of your days off doing exactly what you do at work?  I guess that is a sign that maybe what you do for work is something you like to do?  Or maybe not?

Will Sig
1 Tony McGurk

Even though it’s summer we have had lots rain this month. I began in the garden Saturday till a big downpour halted my progress. This morning I was out there with my coat & hat on picking peas & broccolini. I had to get the peas picked as I don’t like the slightly bitter taste they seem to get when they get too big. I have just finished blanching & freezing them. I got exactly 1kg of peas once they were all shelled & a good aount of broccolini. My 1st harvest for this season. The alternating between rain & warm sunny periods is working wonders for the veggies this year as everything seems to be growing so fast

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2 Will

Over 2 lbs of shelled peas. That is quite a harvest. I don’t have the patience to shell them so I plant 2 types of peas that I eat shell and all!

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3 Rashelle

I have done a bit of gardening recently after a heavy rain. It caught my eye when I read that it could damage the soil. How do I know if I did damage? Is it simply because of compaction or are there other ways I can damage it?

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4 Will

One example is if you till when the soil is very wet. That can clump up the soil into chunks that, when they dry, become almost concrete like. Also as you mention, compaction can be a problem.

So you can do it if you are careful, but it is best to wait until the soil is less soggy. Sometimes you need to get things done. I actually was gardening again today and it was still pouring. So it was even wetter than yesterday. I was just very gentle with the soil, using hand tools and compassion! Also was very careful to avoid hurting all the worms that were active.

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5 Rashelle

OK…thanks. I’ve notice that there are a few large clumps that are sitting on top of the soil getting hard. I’ll have to be more gentle in the future. With the weather the way it is here in CA right now, it doesn’t look like I’ll be gardening any time soon.

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6 Steve

hi Will,
We got nine inches of rain (according to the fire station rain gauge about a mile from here) from this storm, so any attempt at gardening right now would be more like mud wrestling (and I’m sure no one want to watch me mud wrestle).
I’m impressed that you understand that overworking soil when it is too wet can damage the soil structure (more than just the obvious compaction problem). My dad was a professor of soil science (he’s retired now) so I’ve heard this, but I’m guessing very, very few people know it. Another example of your amazing breadth of knowledge.
Merry Christmas!
Steve
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7 Dixie the Poodle

That shor is a big muddy doggy yoo got thair Mista Will. Hay I got to dig in the muddy soyl & got my fer reel muddy wen silly Daddy busted the worter pyp in owr vejjy gardin. Ok bye woof
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8 Keith

Will,
We have mostly red clay around here. Very early in my gardening “career”, I was told by the older men I knew this clever truism. “Work it while wet, never work it again.”
When worked while wet, the red clay turns to almost a rock. You can pound that rock with the flat part of a shovel and get more little rocks. It takes a really long time for the soil to get right after working it wet.
Even the worms don’t like it.

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