True, it had been a bit on the dry side but the cold and rainy weather can stop now so we can get back out into the gardens. I suspect many New England gardeners
are a bit behind in our garden chores. We in the Northeast, however, have much to be thankful for in terms of weather considering all those whose homes,
businesses and croplands are being submerged by the Mississippi River right now.

Also, Midwest wheat, corn and soybean farmers have had to delay planting many of their fields due to soggy conditions. I just heard on the news this morning
that in at least one area less than 50 percent of the fields were planted when typically more than 90 percent are by now. This is bad news for the farmers and
bad news for us in terms of food prices.

The unpredictability of the weather just strengthens the argument for broad support of local farms. The local food and community supported agriculture movement has
been growing and I encourage all to support it. Of course, many are bringing this message even closer to home by growing their own vegetables and fruits
either in the backyard or in community gardens.

Back to the problem of soggy ground. Experienced gardeners know not to work the soil when it is too wet because it will quickly become compacted and that makes for
difficult plant growing conditions. If every step you take leaves an impression that glistens with water (or if you have creatures, like this wood frog milling about the wet garden) – stop! Better to catch up on indoor chores.

Wood frog

That being said, there’s only so long one can wait to plant the rest of the lettuce and beet seeds, the potatoes, and the broccoli and cabbage transplants. In some
instances, planting can be done but conscientiously, and with considerations of soil conditions. If a handful of soil isn’t dripping when squeezed, transplants
can be gingerly set out taking care not to compact the soil around them. You could try sowing some seeds in a previously prepared seedbed covering them with
some crumbled, soil and not packing it down. If these areas seem to be compacted when they dry out, go over the soil lightly with a hand cultivator or
other tool.

Planting in wet soil and going back in to undo any damage when the soil dries out only really works for small areas. Spring weather is always unpredictable but there
are certain techniques one can work into the garden plan to give your gardens the best chance to an early start. Working the soil with a rototiller,
broadfork, or turning fork is not advisable when the soil is too wet even if amendments like limestone and fertilizer have to be added. This much activity
can cause severe compaction so either wait until the soil dries out or till in the fall so beds are ready for planting in the spring with minimal cultivation.
Necessary amendments can be applied to the surface and scratch them in as the soil dries. Permanent paths stepping stones, and raised beds help in areas that
are slow to dry in the spring.

On May 19th, the Connecticut Envirothon celebrated its 20th Field Day at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, CT. Thirty-four or more high schools sent teams of students trained in various environmental topics to compete in the state Envirothon with the winner going on to compete in the National Envirothon which I think is being held in New Brunswick this year.  The wet weather made for some difficult questions at the soils station as the pit continued to fill up with water!

Soil pit at 2011 CT Envirothon Field Day filled with water - again!

Let’s wish for some nicer, drier spring planting weather but I have to say that this cool weather has made for a lovely, lengthy spring bulb show and primrose
blooms lasting almost a month.

Yellow and gold primulas brighten up dark, rainy days

Good gardening to you!

Dawn