It still may be too soon to plant; what you need to know about rain’s impact on soil

When it comes to gardens, many follow the old adage, “don’t plant anything until after Mother’s Day.”

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That saying is based on the annual temperature cycle and the potential for freezing temperatures. Studies have shown the likelihood of damaging cold weather on plants dramatically decreases after this point in the year.

However, this saying doesn’t consider the amount of precipitation that’s occurred or is about to happen.

Here in the Miami Valley, there has been an abundance of rainfall since Jan. 1, with some areas more than 5 inches above normal for precipitation, keeping the ground saturated.

Newspaper columnist and master gardener Pam Bennett said the overly wet ground may be harmful for planting.

“If the garden is wet, don’t plant. This compacts our clay soils and makes them worse. You’l have poor root development and poor drainage,” she said.

>> Wet weather continues to delay planting for farmers

A rule of thumb to know if the garden is too wet is to pick up a handful of soil. If it sticks together and forms a ribbon or ball, it’s too wet. If it crumbles nicely, it is in better condition for planting.

Also, while wet ground makes it easier to pull weeds, avoid stepping into the flowerbed and compacting the soil. This, too could cause damage to plants’ root systems.

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