Collecting rainwater...it's free of water charges!
I, for one am very pleased the cooler, wetter weather has come. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watering as much as the next gardener, but it’s far more satisfying when I can collect the water from a butt that is full from a fresh downpour. The plants love it too and respond far more to the trace elements in the rain than they would with the tap water. Rain is free too.
The onset of autumn, which also brings the wind, has another added benefit for me too. I’m (nearly) as sociable as the next person, but over the past few months I have seen a massive increase in the amount of people who use our local park. This type of social activity is generally relished by myself and I love the idea of standing around on a sunny day passing the time chatting. The issue I have is that my dogs don’t feel the same and it makes what should be a relaxing jaunt through the park, a major obstacle course as I attempt to avoid other people with pets. My two, normally friendly dogs have taken it upon themselves to attack any other dog that comes near them. I say “any other” dog, what I really mean is anything four legged a lot smaller or older than they are. I think if they were humans they would be antisocial bullies. I do hope in this case that their owner isn’t like their dogs. Chips, our eldest dog, who has one eye and the brain the size of a walnut, tends to aim for cyclists too and will be guaranteed to trip over at least one jogger a day. The other dog Bow will charge up to anyone who has got food, and rummage around until he has scoffed the lot, much to the annoyance of picnickers. So as you can gather I don’t get much time for relaxation and pondering my day around the park when the sun shines. When it rains though I can go for an hour without seeing anyone. It might be a bit lonely but I get my day planned out, the dogs don’t get into fights and no cyclist has been run off the path. Getting outside makes you realise that it’s never really as bad as it looks from the comfort of the warm house when looking through the window. When I get home I’m set up to keep working, regardless, you only get wet once.
Jobs to do in the rain
The title might be a bit misleading here, what I really mean is what to look out for if it’s been really wet over the week. I’m not expecting anyone to go out and work on wet ground, neither of you would be happy. Instead look for damage that rain might be doing.
Washed away. Check that soil isn’t being washed away. You could build up a raised area to contain the soil or better still find plants that will hold the soil together with their fibrous roots. Smaller areas can be saved by simply adding a bit of winter bedding or if it’s in the veggie patch some winter nitrogen fixers such as mustard.
Run off. Check buildings for water run off. Walls of sheds and the house don’t like water dripping on them constantly so see if all of the drainpipes and run offs are in good order.
Plant damage. Heavy rains can cause plant damage, and extended periods of wet weather can lead to plant diseases such as powdery mildew, or other bacteria. After a big downpour, check your plants. If only a few leaves have been damaged, you can remove them, or if a plant has been bent over from the force of the rain, you may be able to stake it back up. If the stems are snapped they can go into the compost bin. Check the roots to see the soil hasn’t been washed away too.
Replenish Nutrients. Rain and flooding can carry much-needed nutrients away from your vegetable plants. After severe storms, it is a good idea to replace those nutrients by adding compost or an organic fertilizer to your soil.
Check for slugs. We need to do this all year really but slugs and snail love this weather so check under the old pots and containers.
Some weeds also love the wetter weather so keep an eye out for ones taking over. Best to keep off the soil though until things dry up a bit.
The main thing is to relish and enjoy the wetter weather. The more rain, the more we can collect and use for ourselves.