It’s Raining. Quick, Run Outside and Garden!

Mulching the above ground bits of Daikon radish (Raphanus sativus) in the side yard.
Mulching the above ground bits of Daikon radish (Raphanus sativus) in the side yard.

It’s nearly 8PM here and it’s been raining all day, sometimes in a downpour but mostly in a drizzle. While many folks see rain and think, “Oh, no, No gardening for me today,” I’ve just finished mulching a bit more of my chop-and-drop daikon radish crop (Raphanus sativus) and a light rain has made for light work. I’ve had this extremely pleasant experience before and I have to recommend that if you haven’t done so already, you really should try to do a bit of gardening actually out in the rain.

Of course, a downpour is a bit much for most folks (and for me!), but a light rain is just wonderful to be in out in the yarden. I usually go out impulsively in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, all of which soak up plenty of moisture, eventually chilling me (which makes hot chocolate or tea later at the kitchen table all the better!), but if your aim is to stay out in the yarden an hour or more, try a rain slicker and some Wellingtons and then you are really set for an enjoyable experience. However you dress, I hope you’re inspired to try rain gardening. Here are five advantages I’ve found to gardening in the rain:

1) It’s almost never easier to work the ground. This is especially true if you maintain some ‘squishiness’ in your beds with non-compacted soil, but even in high-traffic areas I’ve found that the soil both parts and recovers, with hand or with shovel, with appreciable ease. Rainy days have made for some excellent transplanting experiences, too.

2) Weeding is breezier. If you garden chemical-free like me, you’ll like that even weeds with dense root systems have less grip in wet soil, and the long rhyzomes of the wire grass prevalent here in Southern Virginia give way much easier after and during a good rain.

3) If you’re planting, you’d be hard-pressed to do it with less effort. Not only is the soil softened by rain but you can also forget pulling over the hose from a rain barrel or hauling a watering can. The falling rain delivers the perfect amount of the most perfect water right to your plants. I’ve found this is especially true when planting from seed; indeed, I did a little broadcast sowing of more daikon while I was outside—I’ll be chopping and dropping it in October.

4) Rain keeps most pests away. Mosquitos are terrible here in the summer but on rainy days, I can work extensively in the yarden unassailed, which is a real change of pace.

5) As if working in the rain couldn’t get much easier, you can’t discount the coolness the rain brings with it, making it easier to work longer and harder (if necessary) during the hottest summer months. You may not even need that extra glass of sweet iced tea when you head inside.

While many people have heard of rain gardens (and I recommend them), it’s few who’ve actually rain gardened, a special, simple pleasure. If you haven’t already, you’ve got to try it. And soon!

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