Best weather for gardening tasks

Do your chores when conditions are right. 

Story by Ava Gassel

Whether you just picked up gardening as a new hobby or you want to refresh your skills, read on to gain a better understanding on the importance of weather and how to
use it to your advantage.

Plant seeds before it rains

Damp, loose soil is easier to work with, and seeds are less likely to rot in soil that doesn’t stay wet for longer periods. If the soil is too wet for too long, there is a risk of the plant developing root rot and killing the plants, perhaps before they even grow. To avoid root rot, use lighter rains for planting seeds rather than rainstorms, as aggressive and lengthy rain can wash the seeds out of place more easily. One of the best benefits of using the rain to your advantage is that it will replace the need to drag out the hose and water the new seeds for a few days.

Do the weeding after it rains

Weeding also is easier a few hours after it rains. Loose, damp soil will let go of the whole plant easier. If there is no rain in sight, water your garden a few hours before weeding. If you try to get everything down to the root, the invader might not come back or might come back in smaller quantities. Try to get every piece, as even a small piece of the root can facilitate future growth of the invasive species. Remember to stay on top of the weeding so that they do not take over the garden and ruin all your hard work. Purposely waiting to pull weeds until after it rains is a good thing to try if weeds are suddenly popping up during the spring. Mark your calendar for the next rain and block off a few hours to put in some elbow grease to yank those weeds out.

Transplant on cloudy days

When moving a seedling, there is a possibility it could take a while to adjust or never adjust to its new environment. Transplanting on cloudy days is a good way to avoid transplant shock when the seed is in danger of lifting or losing stems or leaves and not adjusting to its new location in the garden. It is possible to grow a seedling after transplant shock if it is paid close attention. 

Transplanting seedlings makes it harder for the roots to take in water. While the stems and leaves are losing water, it is important that the roots are still taking in as much if not more water. 

The best way to prevent these possibilities is to transplant them on a cool, cloudy day and to stay vigilant with the newly transplanted seeds, watering them often. Another way to make sure the roots are taking in enough water is to water the roots.

Till on dry, sunny days

Muddy soil can act like wet concrete on your gardening tools. Spring in the Lowcountry means showers, which can get in the way of tilling, digging and raking. Tilling can increase aeration and reduce compaction if done at the right time. Wait until after it rains for the soil to be semi-dry, or use the drier days to avoid getting sticky mud all over your tools. Tilling semi-dry soil also avoids the clumping and displacing of seeds that often comes with tilling wet mud. Make sure not to over-till and reduce the soil to fine powder. Over-tilling will damage the soil structure, and the roots will have a harder time reaching water.

Pay attention to temperatures

Temperature is one of the most important players in gardening. Some crops — cabbage, lettuce and broccoli — prefer cooler weather. The ideal time to plant those would be right after the last frost of the season. Though frosts aren’t a terrible problem in the Lowcountry, it is still imperative to do the research on which plants will thrive in which seasons. Cooler weather plants can still grow in the summer; they will just have a smaller yield. On the other hand, warm-loving plants — tomatoes, peppers and begonias — will perish in cooler soil and should be planted in early summer. Soil temperature is also an important factor in gardening, as it influences moisture, aeration and availability of plant nutrients.

Plant now

Use any extra space in your garden by planting these crops before June 15. 

  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Mustard
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins 
  • Radish 
  • Summer squash 
  • Sweet potatoes 

Plant soon

Best planted between July 15-August 1. 

  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew 
  • Lima beans 
  • Peppers 
  • Southern peas 
  • Tomatoes

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